Sheep shares are being offered in Austria in a bid to keep meadowland under control.
The unique project has been set up in the Weinberge in southern Burgenland where the forests are threatening to encroach on the open landscape that previously existed.
Now a project to keep the natural meadows the part of the local countryside preserved has been organised in which sponsors can invest in a sheep – and they get a return on their investment in the form of fresh meat.
A 50 Euro share will guarantee 6 kg of organic mutton alternatively 5 kg of organic lamb – from animals reared in a natural environment.
The idea is to preserve the Pinktaler Weinstrasse that is regarded as one of the most beautiful parts of the Naturpark Weinidylle.
The problem is that previously much of the countryside was cared for by locals who grew their own wine on small plots of land, but much of that is now regarded as unfashionable and the danger is that the land will eventually become overgrown.
Ecologist Brigitte Gerger added that many people didn’t have the possibility to care for the small plots of land – which is where the idea of the sheep came in.
For the initial phase of the project 30 hectares have been made available in small plots and more is expected to be added shortly.
The project was backed by an EU grant.