Paris city officials are trying a new method of lawn maintenance: They have installed four sheep in a half-acre field next to the municipal archives building, and enclosed them in a three-foot-high electrified fence to protect them from dogs and other animals. The ewes, which cost a total of $335, will spend the spring and summer grazing and fertilizing the land, and by doing so demonstrate a new urban “eco-grazing” initiative that adjunct mayor René Dutrey says “is really not a one-shot deal.” The success of this project will lead to similar efforts in larger areas of public land.
What’s the Big Idea?
It’s the latest in a series of environment-focused projects spearheaded by mayor Bertrand Delanoë since his 2001 election, including car-sharing programs and constructing walking paths along the banks of the Seine River. Besides the obvious benefits gained by their replacing gas-powered mowers, the sheep will hopefully draw visitors who might be motivated to explore the archives. The archivists have been trained to care for the sheep as well, and scientists will monitor the health of the native plant and animal species during their stay.