Sheep graze on UGA’s East Campus during April. The flock was put to work on clearing privet, an invasive plant that displaces more diverse and native species.

Photo by: Dot Paul

When UGA landscapers wanted to clear privet alongside the North Oconee River on East Campus they went back to nature, bringing in a flock of sheep to graze on the shaded slope until the invasive plants were gone.

Local sheep farmer Jennifer Chandler loaned 30 of her sheep to the university for the project. Protected by a fence and two donkeys, the sheep spent two weeks clearing the river bank in March and were brought back for Earth Day in April so that students and campus visitors could see the vegetation management technique in action.

Sheep are preferable to other grazers because they do not go into the water, which can destroy the embankment, and they stay away from the larger, desirable trees.

Though it can take a long time and many subsequent visits from the sheep to completely clear the privet, UGA landscape architects hope to one day develop the site as a park that would provide access to the river for recreation.