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In Croydon, the Downlands Partnership, Downlands Trust, Croydon Council, and City of London’s Coulsdon Commons team all look after these habitats through conservation grazing as well as wider conservation efforts. Here are some of the people I spoke to.

Sean (pictured) is the senior grazing officer at the Downlands Partnership and manages their social media. His journey also started as a volunteer on a city farm, and since taking the reins Sean has helped grow the Downlands Partnership in many ways including introducing new sheep breeds to the grazing herd, creating and organising vital educational resources and events, and revamping the HQ alongside the huge daily tasks of leading the organisation’s grazing programme.

Damien is the grazing assistant at the Downlands Partnership. As with many staff, Damien started out as a volunteer. His day-to-day includes making sure the livestocks welfare is met, moving them from site to site, managing records, and helping to coordinate routine medical treatments.

The Croydon shepherdesses at Hutchinson’s Bank (pictured below). All grazing animals by law must be checked on a daily basis. Starting out as volunteers, Valerie (R) and Rosemary (L) have been stock-checking sheep every week for many years now for the Downlands Partnership, looking for signs of injury or illness.

Dominic is Croydon Council’s countryside warden and takes care of a huge variety around Happy Valley, going between office work and on-site work, including running events like wildflower walks and educational talks.

Tom is the information ranger for the Coulsdon Commons team. Tom helps people to access the Coulsdon Commons spaces in a sustainable way through education, talks, walks, workshops, and social media, as well as maintenance work including monitoring livestock and practical tasks to protect and improve the habitats the team looks after.

Skye is the livestock ranger for City of London’s Coulsdon Commons sites including Happy Valley, Kenley Common, Coulsdon Commons, and Riddlesdown. Skye’s role includes looking after all the grazing animals from birth, including making decisions on breeding, movements, and healthcare. This also involves being on call for emergencies like animals getting injured or attacks by dogs.

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