ORCHARD LIFE

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.  Despite this, orchards have very little legal protection and consequently numbers continue to decrease as sites are grubbed up.

Old fruit trees, with their craggy bark, provide homes for a huge range of insects.  The mosaic of hedges, pasture and trees provide the perfect conditions for wild birds, animals, grasses, flowers, funghi and lichens.

OUR PROJECT WORK

We worked with volunteers and landowners to respect the traditional orchards’ range of wildlife and have taken steps to improve it.

Our volunteers have completed a wildlife survey in every orchard so that we know what’s there.  With their help, we have carried out bat surveys, moth hunts (day and night), dawn chorus walks, funghi forays and more.

We didn’t want people to think that only experts could identify orchard wildlife.  We made sure each session was open to everyone so that, in future, local people would feel confident too.

Our survey data has been made available to local planners and biological record centres – the people who need it to protect our traditional orchards.

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!

TEACHING THE NEW NATURALISTS

We made some giant insects, so that we could show the next generation of naturalists what 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!

CLEARING THE MISTLETOE

Sometimes, to make sure there was room for a range of wildlife to thrive, we had to take something away!  One of our biggest tasks was to clear mistletoe from some of the traditional orchard trees.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant which steals nutrients and water from the host tree.  Left to grow unchecked, it can become so heavy that it causes branches to break and damages tree growth.  It’s important to keep the plant well-pruned.  Our volunteers worked hard to clear quantities of mistletoe from our project orchards.

In the past, at Christmas-tide, the mistletoe boughs provided a handy extra income for fruit growers.  The Teme Valley orchards are particularly famous for their mistletoe, which has been cut and sold at auction in Tenbury Wells since the mid 19th century.  The tradition continues today with the annual Mistletoe Fair.