Orchards – Past, present and future

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Orchards – Past, present and future

Posted: 14/07/2011 11:02:34

First national orchards habitat conference, 20 July 2011, Homme House, Much Marcle

This July, Herefordshire is playing host to the first ever national conference celebrating traditional orchards.

This special one-day conference, organised by Herefordshire Council, in partnership with Herefordshire Nature Trust,, the National Trust , Westons Cider and the UK Traditional Orchards Biodiversity Action Plan Steering Group, is aimed at anyone owning or involved in orchards, from commercial organisations to community groups.

More than 90 delegates, from across the UK, will be arriving at Homme House, near Much Marcle, to hear a range of speakers including David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation for the National Trust, Helen Stace, from The Colwall Orchard Group, and Carina Dunkerley and Rowena Ganguli, from The London Orchard Project.

In addition to the formal presentations there will be a range of displays and information available for participants to browse and ample opportunity for informal networking and exchange of best practice. Westons, well known producers of award winning cider and perry, are nearby and the day will finish with a guided visit to their orchards, a tour of the production plant and tutored tasting of cider and perry.

James Bisset, Herefordshire Council’s principal countryside officer and event organiser, said: “Herefordshire has long been known as ‘The County of Orchards’ and orchards are an intrinsic part of the character, biodiversity and economics of this region. This conference will help to highlight the broad range of exciting projects going on, both here and across the country, to manage and preserve this valuable resource.”

Traditional orchards are a much loved part of our countryside, providing local communities with delicious fruit and peaceful places to enjoy. They also provide food and shelter for hundreds of rare plants, lichens, small mammals and invertebrates including the rare noble chafer beetle which relies on the decaying wood of old fruit trees.

These orchards, often many years old, are made up of a unique combination of fruit trees, scrub, hedgerows, hedgerow trees, fallen deadwood and other features such as ponds. This important habitat is becoming rare as we rely increasingly on imports to provide cheap fruit throughout the year. This has left traditional orchards at risk from neglect, intensification of agriculture and pressure from land development. Since 1950 Natural England estimates that overall orchard area in England has declined by 63 per cent.

In 2007, traditional orchards were designated as a priority habitat for conservation in the UK.

The conference is being held on Wednesday 20th July 2011 at Homme House which is situated in the village of Much Marcle, near Ledbury, and is part of Herefordshire’s ‘Year in the Orchard’ celebrations. For more information, visit www.yearintheorchard.org


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