Paris-The city of Paris is to begin an experiment this April using sheep as a replacement for lawnmowers. Ultimately, it may result in some of the French capital’s most famous parks and open spaces being tended by sheep rather than mechanical means.

Under the scheme, designated “Eco-paturage” — meaning ‘ecopasture’ sheep will be let loose to keep the grass tidy in an area of parkland extending to 2000 square metres in Paris’ 19th arrondissement says the Mayor of Paris, reports

According to the EcoTerra organization, which already operates many schemes using sheep, goats and cows in a number of departments (counties) close the French capital, using animals rather than mechanical means for park maintenance has a whole range of advantages, including:

• Maintaining biodiversity

• Keeping ground weed free

• Eliminates entirely the cost of processing waste clippings

• Fertilises the soil naturally

• Reduces a town or city’s carbon footprint

• Creates a pleasant relaxing environment

• Puts in place biological corridors for smaller animals and insects to thrive

• Gives open spaces a social dimension

Use of sheep instead of lawnmowers also has the benefits of noise reduction, reducing fuel costs and eliminating pesticide use.

The objective of the Paris trial will be to assess whether this type of ecological management of green spaces is feasible in a densely populated area such as central Paris. The ‘Ouessant’ breed of sheep has been selected for the Paris experiment, small, hardy, easily handled sheep. The sheep will graze in parts of the Bois de Vincennes during trial grazing periods from April through to October when the health of the flock will be monitored.

All being well, flocks of sheep could be taking the place of lawnmowers in parkland such as the Bois de Boulogne or even the Champs de Mars, where the Eiffel Tower is situated, in the city centre.