Traditionally-managed orchards are rich havens for all sorts of wildlife as well as fruit. Orchards have declined by almost 60% in the last 50 years. What‚Äôs more, there is no record of exactly where all the remaining orchards are and what condition they are in. So we are surveying and mapping all the remaining traditional orchards in England (and soon in Wales) to protect these vital habitats.
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Registered Charity in England and Wales (274206)
Traditionally-managed orchards contain rare fruit varieties with their associated customs and food production and typically hundreds of species many of which are endangered. In a successful pilot phase, using analysis of aerial photographs covering 3.5 million hectares of the English countryside, we have already located 14 807 traditional orchards in nine counties. An extensive volunteer force has helped us to survey these orchards, recording species present, age and condition of the fruit trees. Now we need to survey the orchards in the rest of the counties in England and Wales. This is an ambitious project due for completion in 2011. The results will underpin the conservation of threatened orchard habitats and raise awareness about the importance of orchards more generally. Our interest in orchards stems from our ownership of an orchard called Rough Hill on the banks of the River Avon in Worcestershire which was purchased when surveys nearby for the endangered noble chafer beetle proved positive. Rough Hill contains around 180 trees and at least 13 nationally-scarce invertebrate species that we know of, one of which is red book listed. In managing the orchard we strike a balance between retaining some of the scrub and dead wood present for the birds and insects and ensuring the restoration of the unimproved pasture to encourage the growth of wild flowers and greatly improve its value to nature conservation. Mapping orchards across England and Wales relies heavily on volunteer effort but we have to raise funds to train those volunteers, to produce information for orchard owners, to manage our own orchard and generally to regenerate a way of life in decline. We have grant support from Natural England and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation but have to raise the rest of the funds ourselves. Please help us if you can.
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