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Lottery players fund Stiperstones Shepherd

Local farmer, Matt Betton, has been appointed to run a two-year shepherding trial on the Stiperstones Common. The Common includes the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve, which is a popular visitor destination. 

This is one of a number of local initiatives from ‘Our Common Cause’, a national project funded by the Heritage Lottery to empower those who graze common land, the commoners, to better manage them to restore peat, create habitats for birds and butterflies and improve the quality of access for public health, well-being and enjoyment.    

The trial will investigate the benefits of having a shepherd on the Stiperstones Common to look after the sheep and talk to visitors about the importance of keeping dogs under close control.

Simon Cooter, Manager of the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve, explains “I am looking forward to working with Matt to see how we can better manage the conservation grazing on the hill, and raise awareness of the problem of dogs off leads”.

Matt will be monitoring the sheep and making sure that they graze across the whole common rather than overgraze their favourite spots and ignore other areas.  This ensures the common remains a good habitat for ground nesting birds such as red grouse, skylark and curlew.

Matt adds “I am delighted to be part of this project and keen to see the positive impacts the role will have on the conservation of the common"

The shepherding role also involves talking to visitors, helping them to enjoy their walk, answering questions and highlighting the importance of keeping dogs under close control especially during the lambing and nesting season.

The Stiperstones National Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Natural England with the help of two active commoners. The site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) primarily for its heathland habitat that relies upon grazing to maintain it as open habitat.

Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund is enabling ‘Our Common Cause’ to work with 12 upland commons in four of England's national landscapes; the Shropshire Hills, Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and Dartmoor. Here in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we are focused on three commons; the Long Mynd, Stiperstones and Clee Liberty. 

For more information please contact Renee Wallace, Our Common Cause Project Officer in the Shropshire Hills. Email Renee@foundationforcommonland.org.uk, or telephone 07929 726337.

Published by Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership on