Traditional orchards support an amazing range of wildlife; that’s why they are recognised as a very special habitat.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan now includes traditional orchards, but despite this they have very little protection and numbers continue to decrease.
Old fruit trees, with their craggy bark, provide homes for a huge range of insects and the orchard mosaic of hedges, pasture and the trees themselves provide the perfect conditions for all sorts of birds, animals, grasses, flowers, funghi and lichens.
One of our key aims has been to make sure that we not only respect the wildlife value of the orchards we work in but also try to improve it.
Every orchard has had a wildlife survey so that we know what’s there, and we’ve found an amazing range of wildlife, including the elusive Noble Chafer beetle – yes, we’ve not only found the frass, we’ve seen the real thing!
Our work has included bat surveys, moth hunts (day and night flying) dawn chorus walks and much more, making the orchard wildlife accessible to everyone, not just the experts. And we’ve made sure that the data we collect is available to the people who need it to protect our orchards – from local planners to biological record centres.
TEACHING THE NEW NATURALISTS
We made some giant insects, so that we could teach the next generations of naturalists about the mini-beasties they might find in the trees if they looked hard enough.
The ant, spider and moth were very popular guests at all our events!