Shepherd found for Snowdonia project

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The National Trust has appointed a second shepherd to support its innovative conservation project in the foothills of Snowdon in North Wales.

Daniel Jones, 36, from Anglesey will support the current shepherd, Bryn Griffiths at the conservation charity’s in-hand farm, Hafod-y-Llan in caring for the 1600 flock of Welsh Mountain sheep during daylight hours for the next five months.

He will be joined by his two sheepdogs, Jill and Nel.

The work will involve herding the flock to grazing areas away from sensitive mountain habitats to improve plant diversity on the mountain.

Daniel was raised on a small family sheep farm and studied agriculture at Aberystwyth University before working as a contract shearer. He has been running his own sheep farm for the past six years in Anglesey. He said: “This job is unique as it will mean that we have a full time shepherding role on the mountains.

“It is only by watching the sheep throughout daylight hours, which can be up to 11pm in high summer that we can really aim to ensure that sensitive habitats aren’t grazed and we have a real opportunity to improve plant biodiversity. It’s a real case of farming and conservation working together hand in hand.

“This will be a brand new way of shepherding to me because of the different terrain and open ground. The dogs will have to use their brains a lot more than in the normal field work I do and it will be a real challenge because of that.

“I’m also looking forward to working at Hafod-Y-Llan, meeting new people and seeing the outcome of the project and its effect on mountain vegetation and modern day farming systems.”

Daniel’s main role will be to assist with the day-to-day shepherding of the sheep, using traditional techniques on foot and with working sheepdogs.

The current conservation shepherd Bryn Griffiths added: “Over the next five years we should hopefully see some positive changes on the mountains with heather and other plants including bog asphodel and fruiting bilberries returning to the mountainside.

“It really is conservation in action and we should see improvements not only in mountain vegetation but we’re also measuring the effect on the flock. We will also learn much more about the ‘hefting’, ie instincts of sheep on the mountain to stay within a certain area.

“The key benefits for the sheep are that they are monitored on a daily basis. It also is a very visual reminder to all those people walking the Watkin path to the summit of Snowdon that this is a working landscape.”

Hafod-Y-Llan sits within the Yr Wyddfa National Nature Reserve and Natura 2000. Daniel’s position will be required every summer until the five year project concludes in October 2018.

The five-year conservation shepherding project which started last year is being part funded by Natural Resources Wales.