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France

Paris hires munching sheep as eco lawn mowers

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-07

Earlier this week Paris brought in four little black sheep to work as eco-friendly lawn mowers as part of a sustainable pilot project. If deemed successful it could expand to the rest of Paris.

Paris has come up with an unconventional way to keep its urban grass trim without costing the earth. Earlier this week, the city enlisted four black sheep as part of a pilot project to munch away a section of the city’s gardens in northeastern Paris.

Eco-efficient and petite in size, the four legged lawnmowers are Ouessant sheep, named after a small island west of Brittany.

"It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine. And they're so cute," says Ferme de Paris sheepkeeper, Marcel Collet.

Between April and October, the new "park workers" will graze grounds the size of eight tennis-courts in three two-week-long sweeps in a move to promote biodiversity and make the grooming of the capital's green areas more sustainable -- replacing both chemicals and lawn mowers.Out of work, they will be resting back at a farm on the outskirts of Paris, the Ferme de Paris.

And if the pilot project proves to be a success, it could extend to other neighbourhoods across the city and perhaps even other cities.

Sheep at the Eiffel Tower?

"I can imagine this very easily in London and New York ... even Tokyo," said Fabienne Giboudeaux, Paris City Hall's director of Green Spaces. "And why not have them at the Eiffel Tower?"

The ovine-operation follows a successful stint last year by two goats that were hired privately by the Louvre to mow the lawn at Tuileries, central Paris' grand 17th-century gardens.

Parisians who cringe at the sight of poop may worry that sheep droppings could ruin their pristine city. But Alain Divo, the director of Ecoterra, a French company that hires out sheep and goats, says the poop crumbles away in days to an odourless, inoffensive powder that serves as potent fertiliser for the grass.

Hiring goat and sheep lawn mowers is now a booming business. In fact, a number of French urban shepherd companies have sprung up over the years.

According to Sylvain Girard, director of Ecomouton, it currently has 260 sheep working the premises of top companies such as Gaz de France. And with interest coming from Britain, Germany, Belgium and Russia, he has plans for Ecomouton to expand his operation to more than 600 sheep by the end of 2013.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-04-07

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