Since 1950 Natural England estimates that overall orchard area in England has declined by 63%, and it’s probably higher in our area because of all the building developments.
The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) recently carried out an England orchard inventory, listing 321 potential traditional orchards in South Gloucestershire covering an area of 127.9 hectares. So far, owner questionnaires have revealed that 8% of traditional orchards in South Gloucestershire are in excellent condition, 40% in good condition and 52% in poor condition. 12 traditional orchards were in Environmental stewardship comprising 9.10 hectares. Further information about the national survey can be found at www.ptes.org.
The South Gloucestershire Orchard survey will now build on the work undertaken by the national survey and aims to fill the gaps, where survey data has not been verified and by identifying orchards that have been left out.
South Gloucestershire Council currently have a work placement volunteer who is looking at the 1915 maps to find out just how many orchards have been lost locally. It’s early days but the losses for most parishes look to be around 90% which represents an area of anywhere between 3ha (Bradley Stoke) and 60ha (Thornbury).
Could YOU help with this community project? South Glos is currently looking for volunteers to take part in the survey and help verify the orchards in the parish.
You can find out more about the survey here. If you are interested in helping with the orchard survey please email Sarah Wells email@example.com or John Morris firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01454 863581.
South Gloucestershire Council offer small environmental grants for community groups or landowners wishing to restore or create traditional orchards, just like the one created at Wapley last year. Contact John Morris on 01454 863581 or email email@example.com for more information, or download details from: www.southglos.gov.uk/environmentalgrants.