June 2011 Update from Anita Burrough Peoples Trust for Endangered Species
Please find attached information about the Gloucestershire section of the traditional orchard inventory. The inventory complements other habitat inventories and is available through the Natural England website http://www.gis.naturalengland.org.uk/pu ... gister.asp
and via MAGIC http://magic.defra.gov.uk/website/magic/
A full report of the inventory and the project that created it can be found in the NECR077 Natural England Commissioned Report, Traditional orchard project in England – the creation of an inventory to support the UK Habitat Action Plan. (http://naturalengland.etraderstores.com ... op/NECR077
The report contains full details of the methodology, lists the partners involved, local orchard groups and associated projects and gives the results to date for each county together with information about how it is being used. Summaries for each county are available on our website - the summary for Gloucestershire is attached together with the most recent newsletter from the project. Frequently Asked Questions about the inventory can also be found on our website http://www.ptes.org/orchards
The funding for this project has now ended but we will continue to recruit volunteers and co-ordinate ground-truthing as many orchards as possible over the next year.
It is now vital that people feed in to this inventory in order to maintain and improve its accuracy, so if you have any local knowledge, for example information about newly planted or restored orchards, that you could share with us to improve the accuracy of the information in your local area, we would be very grateful to receive it.
The data set will continue to be updated regularly as new information comes to us from volunteers, orchard owners, orchard groups, record centres etc.
For further information about the project please visit http://www.ptes.org/orchards
or please do not hesitate to contact me if you have additional questions.
I’m so grateful for all the support that we have received for this project. We could not have done it without the help of a great many people so thank you to everyone that has helped us.Press Release by Peoples Trust for Endangered Species http://www.ptes.orgThursday 5 May 2011
First ever survey of England’s traditional orchards from the air.
Taking a bird’s eye view of England’s traditional orchards has enabled conservationists to put one of the most important wildlife habitats back on the map.
A five year research project by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has used aerial photographs to produce a unique inventory of England’s traditional orchards - a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Priority Habitat. The study funded by Natural England, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and PTES, has for the first time established the location, condition, age, boundaries and management status of dwindling traditional orchards to support the Habitat Action Plan (HAP) and provides a much-needed baseline of data from which to focus future conservation action. The traditional orchard habitat has been identified as having great biodiversity value, but until now information about the amount of traditional orchard habitat remaining in England has been out-dated and incomplete. Aerial photography provides researchers with a unique perspective; orchards can often be spotted by their planting patterns, as the trees tend to be growing in equally spaced lines. Conservationists set about scouring 3.5 million hectares of the English countryside and this painstaking investigation has located 35,378 traditional orchards across 51 counties, equating to 16,990 hectares of habitat.
The project has involved over 600 local volunteers who, with training from PTES have helped to survey a proportion (19%) of the orchards on the ground, recording the species, age and condition of the fruit trees – and contributing some 563 volunteer days to the project - the equivalent of over 18 months of work. The fieldwork analysis reveals that overall only 9% of England’s traditional orchards are in excellent condition, while 46% are in good condition and 45% are in poor condition.
Even more useful in terms of long-term stewardship, is that this report also provides a picture of the state of English orchards at the county level - allowing comparisons of the condition of traditional orchards to be made between any of the 51 counties included in the research. The study has also attempted to gather information from orchard owners throughout the country resulting in the collection of 764 orchard owner questionnaires providing valuable insights at a local level.Anita Burrough, PTES Orchard Officer,
who led the project team, says:
“We are proud to have completed this important inventory which for the first time gives
us a true picture of the state of traditional orchards. The mosaic of habitats that
comprise a traditional orchard provide food and shelter for at least 1,800 species of
wildlife, including the rare noble chafer beetle which relies on the decaying wood of old
fruit trees. With this loss of habitat, we also face losing rare English fruit varieties,
traditions, customs and knowledge, in addition to the genetic diversity represented by
the hundreds of species that are associated with traditional orchards”.
Dr Peter Brotherton, Head of Biodiversity for Natural England, said: “Traditional orchards
can be biodiversity hot spots, but without proper protection and sensitive management,
they can easily slip into decline. Up until now, many of these biodiversity goldmines
were quietly deteriorating in forgotten corners of the countryside, becoming overgrown
or being lost altogether. This research has enabled us to pin point their precise location,
allowing conservationists to work with local communities and landowners in helping to
keep these special sites buzzing with wildlife”.
Characteristically traditional orchards consist of a low density of trees set in seminatural, mainly herbaceous, vegetation. They are cultivated using low-intensity methods such as the absence of pesticides and the use of grazing animals instead of machines for mowing. This important habitat is becoming rare as we rely increasingly on imports to provide cheap fruit throughout the year. This has left the traditional orchard habitat, an intrinsic feature of the English countryside, at risk from neglect, intensification of agriculture and pressure from land development.
The value of this vital inventory is demonstrated by the range of practical ways in which
it will be used including:
Habitat restoration and creation
Identifying orchards in local planning policies and development control
Integrating habitat information and species distribution to support conservation
Working in partnership with orchard owners to provide advice and practical
Targeting Environmental Stewardship scheme options for management of
The survey revealed that around 2831.55 hectares of England’s traditional orchards are currently within Environmental Stewardship schemes. Plans are underway to extend this study to Wales depending on the announcement of further funding.
- Ends -
For more information, to arrange interviews, or obtain images
please call Jane Bevan or Susannah Penn at Firebird PR on 01235 835297/ 07977 459 547
Notes for Editors
· Individual results for the 51 counties surveyed in this inventory are available including
· A UK Traditional Orchards Habitat Action Plan Group has been set up and work is underway
on developing the Action Plan. Natural England and the National Trust are leading this early
work, with the support of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and other organisations
such as Common Ground, the Ancient Tree Forum, the Royal Society for the Protection of
Birds and the other UK statutory conservation agencies. This UK HAP Group has
recognised that producing an inventory of traditional orchards is a very high priority.FootnoteThe Gloucestershire Orchard Group
has been instrumental in assisting with these orchard surveys and outreach in Gloucestershire. For a survey form please contact PTES or the Gloucestershire Orchard Group. Leaflets are also available from either, entitled: Traditional Orchards - a guide to wildlife and managementNoble Chafer Fact File