Traditional Orchards - Habitat Action Plan

Ref L/H1 Local Habitat Action Plan 1
Plan Author: G C Barnes
Plan Co-ordinator: Bob Lever
November 2003 Version 1
Under Review October 2004
Final August 2005

Action Plan Summary

Current Status

Traditional orchards are a group of standard fruit trees planted on permanent grassland. They have been planted in a wide variety of situations and soil types for the production of a range of fruits.

National Status

  • Of the 35,557 ha of orchards in England, only 14% are managed 'traditionally' (DEFRA 1997).

Norfolk Historical Status

  • Norfolk has a long history of orchards as an integral part of its land management. In the Domesday Book, two vills have names associated with apples:-
 
Appleton - Enclosure with apple trees. OE aeppel (apple tree) + tun (enclosure).
Applethorpe - Secondary settlement with apple trees. OE aeppel (apple tree) + ON thorpe (secondary settlement).
  • The gardens of Norwich Cathedral Priory clearly had orchards, and in 1406, apple, pear and cherry orchards are recorded, as well as walnut and hazel trees. As well as the fruit, the orchards were valued for their flowers and as places for relaxation.
  • Apple orchards also played an important role in local communities. In 1313, John Thorpe, and Alice his wife, were taken before the Courts for, amongst other things 'felling and selling sixty apple trees.......... Worth 12d each'. Again, in 1798, Randall Burroughes records 'digging and cutting two useless apple trees out of the orchard and an elm that grew on the drain before the study window and by its shade greatly injured the orchard'; and
  • 'The apples this year were sold at Norwich at 6s per sack and 28 sent in and gave 6s to the man of Wicklewood who sold them. I reserved about 15 sacks of the best at home'.
  • The first reference to a named variety of apple in England was an exchequer account of 1290 that confirmed that Robert Evermere paid his annual rent of 200 Pearmains and 4 hogsheads of Pearmain cider for the petty serjeantry of Runham, Norfolk. (Source: Dr J Morgan, The Book of Apples, 1993.)

The Biodiversity Value of Traditional Orchards

  • A study by the Central Science Laboratory found that there were more than twice as many birds of a greater species diversity in traditional orchards compared to modern ones.
  • There is an immense range of local varieties of fruits, especially cider apples, plums and Perry pears. Pears, plums and damsons were also widely planted in hedgerows. These cultivars are an important element of biodiversity in their own right.
  • Traditional standard orchards, whilst of 'artificial' origin, support many features which make them of value for wildlife.
  • The trees are relatively short-lived and as a consequence produce decaying wood more quickly than most native hardwoods, making them important refuges for saproxylic invertebrates, hole-nesting and insectivorous birds.
  • The fruit trees are valuable hosts for mistletoe and lichens.
  • The fruits can provide important food sources in autumn and winter for birds - thrushes in particular being attracted to windfall apples - and - in their decaying state - insects, especially hymenoptera and lepidoptera.
  • Blossom is an important nectar source for invertebrates.
  • Orchards may also have a herb-rich grassland sward which may be managed as a meadow or pasture.
  • If under-managed, shadier orchards can give rise to ranker communities, which are more typical of hedge bank flora.
  • Modern commercial orchards are intensively managed, with trees being regularly replaced, the ground beneath the 'trees' being a sterile strip and the intervening grass closely mown. Pesticide use is also heavy. Consequently, they are of negligible value for wildlife, but can be improved with integrated crop management with hedgerows and windbreaks.

Norfolk Current Status

  • A considerable percentage have been lost. Many orchards are on the edge of villages, and the pressures to provide extra housing have meant that many have been built on.
  • Norfolk is particularly rich in apple varieties which have been found or been developed here, or have strong associations with the county. 73 of these varieties have been recorded, but only 38 of them are known today. There are also three Norfolk pears that still exist.

Norfolk Apples and Pears

  • Existing varieties, earliest recorded dates

 

Dessert Apples

Culinary Apples

Hubbard's Pearmain

1796

London Pippin

1500s

Caroline

1822

Dr Harvey

1629

London Pearmain

1842

Winter Majetin

1734

Sandringham

1883

Norfolk Beefing

1698

St Magdalen

1890

Striped Beefing

1794

Horsford Prolific

1900

Norfolk Summer Broadend

1796

Norfolk Royal

1901

Winter Broadend

1796

Admiral

1921

Vicar of Beighton

1894

Bann's

1928

Golden Noble

1820

Harling Hero

1928

Emneth Early

1899

Lynn's Pippin

1942

Norfolk Beauty

1901

Red Ellison

1942

Robert Blatchford

1914

Look East

1971

Hanworth Codlin

1950

Norfolk Coleman

1977

   

Norfolk Royal Russet

1983

Dual Use Varieties

 

Jordan's Weeping

(unknown)

Dutch Mignonne

1770

   

Baxter's Pearmain

1821

   

Adam's Pearmain

1826

   

Hunter's Majestic

1914

Pears

 

Captain Palmer

1916

Robin

(unknown)

Leeder's Perfection

1917

Hacon's Incomparable

1792

New Costessey Seedling

1926

Blickling Pear

 

Green Roland

1945

   

Herbert Eastoe

1948

  • Lost varieties, last recorded dates

 

 

1600s...

 

Beachamwell

-

   

1700s...

 

Pine Apple Russet

1934

Early Nonpareil

1920s

New York Pippin

1884

Freethorpe Apple

1734

Belle Grideline

1884

Halvergate Apple

1734

Ten Shilling Apple

1934

Oxnead Pearmain

1872

Norfolk Stone Pippin

1889

Transparent Codlin

1885

Horsham Russet

1790

   

 

1800s...

     

Seiley's Mignonne

1884

Norfolk Paradise

1884

Bland's Jubilee

1884

Norfolk Pippin

1829

Colonel Harbord's Pippin

1970s

Webb's Russet

1960s

Norwich Jubilee

1872

Norfolk Dumpling

1920s

Norfolk Bearer

1895

Sea Pippin

1829

Ringwood's Pippin

1829

Downham Pippin

1829

Hail Apple

1883

Saham Toney

1896

Lord Stanley

1872

Hethersett Pippin

1829

Foulden Pearmain

1818

   

1900s...

     

Leslie Smith

1904

Autumn Glory

1908

Fenn's Seedling

1904

Norwich Pippin

1906

Some Associated Species

Spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), Tree sparrow (Passer montanus), Stag beetle (Lucanus cervus), Noble chafer (Gnorimus nobilis), Green woodpecker (Picus viridus), Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris), Redwing (Turdus iliacus), Red-belted clearwing moth (Synanthedon myopaeformis), Mistletoe bug (Anthocorin visi), a lichen (Parmelia acetabulum), Mistletoe (Viscum album), Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

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Current factors causing loss or decline in Norfolk

  • Many traditional orchards are on the urban fringe, and are under threat from housing and other development.
  • The loss of markets for the produce makes these orchards uneconomic, and liable to grubbing out.
  • New orchards are seldom planted for similar reasons, leaving the old ones to decline and disappear through neglect.

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Current Action in Norfolk

Protection and Designations

  • Tree Preservation Orders.

The Town and Country Planning Regulations 1999 makes it possible to place a Tree Preservation Order on fruit trees where it is in the interest of amenity to do so. However, TPOs cannot be used to control tree work in commercial orchards. Conservation Areas will also provide similar protection to TPOs.

  • Local Nature Reserves.

LNRs are designated by Local Authorities, in consultation with English Nature. (Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.) The criteria for designation emphasises that sites selected as LNRs must be of special interest in the local area, or of reasonable natural interest, and of high value in the area, for the informal enjoyment of nature by the public.

  • County Wildlife Sites.

At present, no known designation of CWSs. This is thought to be because the designation of CWS is heavily biased towards vascular plants through the use of the National Vegetation Classifications whilst other fauna species and 'lower' plants are under-surveyed. However, Local Authorities are in the process of incorporating the existing register into their Local Plan. This will mean that there will be a presumption against development on such sites. Old orchards are an under-surveyed resource.

  • Assistance

(a) The Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS), formerly organised through DEFRA by the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency (RDS), used to pay for an agreed programme of orchard management over a ten year period. Management included pruning of old trees, replacement trees of traditional varieties and fencing. Whilst the scheme was very useful, monies available through the scheme as a whole did not match demand.

The new Environmental Stewardship Scheme gives assistance towards:-

  • Creation of traditional orchards (specific target areas only).
  • Restoration of traditional orchards.
  • Maintenance of high value traditional orchards.
  • Maintenance of traditional commercial orchards for historic and/or landscape benefit.

(b) The East of England Apples and Orchards Project is run by volunteer fruit experts and enthusiasts with the support of the Environment Section of Norfolk County Council. It aims to make sure that the county's heritage of orchard fruits is recorded and made safe for the future by:

  • Surveying the county's orchards.
  • Creating a database to assess the status and distribution of Norfolk's fruit varieties.
  • Compiling a photographic record of Norfolk's fruit varieties.
  • Encouraging and advising on the setting up and maintenance of demonstration orchards of Norfolk fruit.
  • Advising groups and individuals on the planting of local varieties in new orchards, schools or community sites and gardens.
  • Teaching orchard skills.
  • Organising and taking part in Apple Days across the county.

(c) The County Council offers grant aid for the planting of new orchards composed of old Norfolk varieties.

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Action Plan Objectives and Targets

National

  • None.

Norfolk

  • Maintain the extent of traditional orchards in Norfolk.
  • Plant 2ha of new traditional orchards in Norfolk per annum.
  • Increase the area of traditional orchards in agri-environment schemes by 5% per annum.

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