A flock of sheep watched over by a shepherd and his trusty dog are being used to tackle problems of under-grazing in the Midlands.
About 250 sheep are helping to prevent a scrub and woodland invasion on the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, so more than a million annual visitors can keep enjoying the stunning views.
Sheep have roamed the famous hills for more than 4,000 years but their numbers have fallen due to a decline in the farming industry.
A flock of North Country Cheviot ewes were brought back to graze the hills after the foot-and-mouth crisis as an alternative to burning or cutting down trees using chainsaws.
Jim Knight, Rural Affairs Minister, took a brisk stroll up the Malvern Hills to see the project this week.
Mr Knight, the MP for Dorset South, said: "The sheep are able to graze and stop the encroachment of woodland which, if it was allowed to continue, would prevent all the people climbing to the top of the hills and enjoying the views."
The Minister also visited a number of other agricultural sites as part of a two-day tour of the Midlands, including a village hall.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ( Defra), is providing a funding and loan package to help improve the role of village halls in their local communities.
Mr Knight saw how the village hall in Elmley Castle, Worcestershire, is helping local businesses by bringing them all under one roof.
He said: "The village hall incorporates the local post office and hosts an aerobics class, art workshop, retail shop, and a variety of community activities - a fine example of providing a number of services to people in the local community within one facility.
"Through the new rural social and community programme, there is scope through local partnerships to support the development of managers' capacity to run a modern village hall to meet the needs of local communities."
The Minister concluded his tour yesterday with a visit to the Wye Forest where he was told more needs to be done to prevent a dramatic decline in woodland plants.
According to a study, 1,648 specific plots in 103 native woods across England, Wales, and Scotland have fallen by more than a third since they were first surveyed in 1971.
Mr Knight said a number of Government policies including reducing non-native trees and controlling livestock grazing would help to reverse the decline in wildflowers.
He said: "The Government's new policy for ancient woodland in England will help to address the decline by promoting sensitive management of our native and ancient woodlands.
"Measures like creating buffer strips on farmland around woods, or adding to the woodland area could help to reduce the spread of nutrients into the wood from adjacent farmland and increase the habitat available for woodland species."