Six feral goats have been introduced to the area of the Avon Gorge known as the gully, and will be kept in a fenced off area cared for by specially trained Bristol Downs Rangers in the hope that they will regenerate the wildlife in the gorge. The goats’ job is to remove any overgrown trees, plants and shrubbery to encourage the growth of wildflowers and rare plants for which the valley was once internationally recognised.
This is the first time grazing animals have been allowed on to this Bristol landmark for over ten years and is a decision that has had overwhelming support from members of the public. Bristol City Council is keen for the goats to become a natural addition to the gorge’s unique environment and believe it is a positive step for the maintenance of other natural landmarks in the UK.
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Despite dispute that the animals may ruin some of the gorge’s population of rare whitebeam trees, the project has received funding from the Higher Level Natural Stewardship Scheme run by Natural England.
The idea to introduce goats to the gorge was suggested two years ago by the Bristol Downs Watch. The animals are seen as a sustainable solution to protecting one of Britain’s rare botanical valleys and will take the place of the sheep that once grazed the gully 100 years ago.
The Avon Gorge in Bristol is one of Britain’s best botanical sites. The Gorge itself is home to a rich variety of rare plants and flowers which can only be found on its grassy slopes, such as the Bristol Onion and Bristol Rock Cress.