Grazing farm animals will be used to help care for nature in green spaces with historical and natural importance around Thetford.

Local livestock farmers Charles Clack and Matthew Rouston, owners of Regency Agricultural Services, have been appointed as graziers by Thetford Town Council.

From April, they will be responsible for grazing cattle and sheep on Ford Meadow and Barnham Cross Common - an important area of Breckland grass heathland which is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) providing valuable habitats for rare and scarce wildlife.

And, for the first time in many years, sheep will also be used to graze parts of Castle Park, which is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The council said these open space areas are "environmentally and historically significant and must be managed in a way that supports their conservation".

Grazing will be used to maintain the characteristic habitats of these sites, and "enhance the biodiversity of the land".

Mr Clack said: "We are delighted to have been successful with our bid to take on the council’s grazing sites.

"We look forward to introducing our stock this spring and working with the council to better manage the sites.

"It is important to us to engage with the public on all sites to build a better understanding of livestock and farming in general."

All grazed sites will carry signage with information regarding the animals and emergency contact details.

The council said people visiting grazed areas must be considerate of the animals and follow the instructions and guidance on the signs - including that dogs must be kept on leads at all times on these sites.

Hazel McCambridge, vice chairman of the council’s amenities committee, said: "We are really lucky to have this opportunity to work with graziers who are passionate about wildlife, sharing their knowledge with the community and helping us see these special areas flourish."