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There are constantly new grants available. FOR A FULLER GRANT LIST, please contact us.

September 2013 Update

The Environmental Stewardship Scheme below is closed, unfortunately, and Natural England are not taking in any new applications.  A new scheme is being developed to replace Environmental Stewardship, but it is not expected that new agreements for this will begin before 1st January 2016 at the earliest. Many apologies. However, you can register your interest now with Chris Wedge so that he has a list of potential applicants for 2016 onwards. His contact details are below.

Traditional Orchards & Environmental Stewardship 

Gloucestershire is nationally important for traditional orchards.  They are a feature of the local landscape, helping maintain the traditional mosaic of different habitats.  Once virtually every farm would have had an orchard close by provide fruit and shelter for young stock but most of England's ‘old’ orchards have been lost to neglect, grubbing up and development.  A recent Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust survey reported that 67% of Gloucestershire's traditional orchards have been lost in the last 30 years alone.

Wildlife

Traditional orchards may be hundreds of years old and have often escaped agricultural “improvements”.  They offer a refuge for a host of rare and protected wildlife including dormice, hares, greater horseshoe bats, great crested newts, barn owls, tree sparrows, bullfinches and song thrushes, insects such as noble chafer and stag beetle, and mistletoe.  They are important for wildlife because of:

•              decaying wood - old trees have lots of holes, good habitat for nesting birds and insects;

•              fruit - this provides a source of food for birds and insects in the autumn and winter;

•              blossom - a good source of nectar for bumblebees, butterflies and other insects;

•              biodiversity - they often support other habitats important for biodiversity such as hedges, ponds and unimproved grassland which may support wild daffodils, cowslips and orchids;

Genetic conservation

Up to 7,000 varieties of fruit tree are recorded in Britain alone, including apples, pears, plums and cherries.  Gloucestershire has 100 varieties of apple that originated in the county, plus many plums and perry pears. 

Maintaining the diversity of fruit varieties in orchards is important for a number cultural and historic of reasons:

•              Preserving a valuable cultural heritage - Many old fruit varieties are rare and may have been local to a particular region or county or even to a specific village;

•              Maintaining a large gene bank - old varieties are often resistant to pests and diseases and other environmental factors and provide an important, irreplaceable genetic resource;

•              Ensuring successful pollination – most varieties require cross-fertilisation with a different variety to set fruit so different varieties still need to be planted;

•              Ensuring crop continuity through the season, as different varieties ripen at different times.

 

Environmental Stewardship

Natural England is keen to encourage landowners to restore old orchards and meet these targets. It operates the Environmental Stewardship Scheme throughout England, which offers payments to farmers and land managers to improve the natural beauty and diversity of the countryside.  The scheme is split into two strands, Entry Level Stewardship and Higher Level Stewardship.  Orchard management is funded under the Higher Level Stewardship strand.  There are currently about 2,400 hectares of orchards in Environmental Stewardship nationally.

The scheme funds the restoration of traditional apple, pear, cherry, plum or damson, cider or perry orchards, characterised by widely spaced standard fruit trees of old and local varieties, normally at a spacing of less than 150 trees/hectare.  The scheme does not fund modern bush orchards consisting of closely spaced trees on dwarfing rootstocks.

The area we are targeting for restoring and creating traditional orchards in Gloucestershire (see map below) is along the eastern edge of the Forest of Dean, up to Dymock in the north and east to Minsterworth, and links to orchard areas in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.  The reason we are targeting this area is because it has the highest density and number of orchards and is a stronghold for wildlife associated with orchards, including the noble chafer beetle.

The type of traditional orchards that are a priority for the scheme are those that are managed extensively, with mature trees and fallen and standing deadwood and grazed with cattle or sheep.  There is no restriction on selling the fruit though, and we are keen to encourage this.  We are also keen to encourage the planting of new trees in these orchards, to maintain the continuity of the habitat so that when the old trees die there are younger trees to replace them.

Although they are a lower priority we may also fund the planting of new orchards, particularly where they are near to existing mature orchards.  This is to help maintain a network of orchards within the landscape.

Under the scheme the agreement holder enters a 10 year agreement, during which time they agree a schedule of work to manage the orchard for cultural, historic and wildlife objectives and where appropriate plant new trees of local varieties.

The payments are split into two types; land management payments (mentioned below) and capital item payments.  Capital payments are for one-off work and include:

•              Planting new fruit trees                                                    £17/tree

•              Cattle-proof guards                                                           £36/guard

•              Sheep-proof guards                                                           £32/guard

•              Tube & mesh guards                                                         £3.30/guard

•              Restorative pruning                                                          £17/tree

•              Identification of fruit tree varieties                              £30/variety

Additional payments for livestock management such as fencing and water supply may also be available, and for the restoration of other habitats associated with the orchard such as hedges and ponds.

Land management payments are paid bi-annually a year in lieu.  They are intended for the ongoing management of the trees and the grassland underneath.  For restoring and managing existing orchards the payment is £250/ha, for orchard creation the payment is £190/ha.  More information can be found at http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/farming/funding/es/default.aspx

Management plans

Because of the individual requirements of orchards, before you begin to carry out any work it is a good idea to produce a management plan that sets out your aims and objectives and details proposals for management and a programme of work to restore and maintain your orchard.  For most traditional farm orchards the goal will not be optimal, commercial fruit production but the retention and reservation of the trees for cultural, historic and wildlife objectives, combined with a modest yield.

The management plan should;

•              Identify the varieties of fruit tree present in the orchard and any history associated with it.

•              Highlight any special wildlife or other interest.  Conservation of standing and fallen dead wood is of particular importance and it is important that any pruning work is carried out sensitively and does not lead to the removal of this important habitat.

•              Detail tree restoration and replanting work, giving the type of rootstock, varieties, numbers, timing and location.  It is not necessary to restock the whole of the orchard straight away.  As part of an Environmental Stewardship agreement trees can be restored and planted gradually over the course of the agreement. In some cases it may be necessary to order trees from nurseries a year or more in advance, particularly if specific varieties are to be grafted to order.

•              Describe how the grass beneath the trees is to be managed.  This will depend on the diversity of the sward, the species present and the past and existing management. 

•              Describe any existing public access and any proposals for increased public enjoyment by new access or opening the orchard for special use such as fruit picking.  There are additional payments for educational access under Environmental Stewardship.

A management plan will be required as part of the Environmental Stewardship agreement in all but the most straightforward of cases.  This should be discussed with your Environmental Stewardship advisor before undertaking any work, where this requires expert advice a payment of £400 may be available to employ a professional to produce a detailed plan.

Funding for Environmental Stewardship is restricted, and the budget has been allocated for this financial year and 2012/13.  We are looking to bring orchards into agreements starting in April 2013.

 

For further details, please contact: Chris Wedge, Natural England, First Floor, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol  BS1 6EB

tel: 0300 060 1998  mob: 07775 593965       email: chris.wedge@naturalengland.org.uk

Chris Wedge (Gloucestershire & South Glos land management team, & orchard specialist)

 

 

BTCV People's Places (BTCV name change to The Conservation Volunteers)

If your community group is seeking funding to create or improve a green space, this award could help.  Funded by the New Opportunities Fund (Green Spaces & Sustainable Communities Programme), grants of £3,000 to £10,000 are available.  www.tcv.org.uk

Contact: TCV Gloucestershire: James Aylward. TCV, Tithe Barn Centre, Brockworth Court, Brockworth, Gloucester GL3 4QU. Tel: (01452) 864805.

South Gloucestershire Grants

South Gloucestershire Council operate a grant scheme for orchards in South Gloucestershire only:

  • South Gloucestershire Environment Grant for local groups or voluntary organizations, for environmental projects which are of benefit to the wider community. Individuals may also apply. Up to 80% grant support can be provided.
  • Biodiversity Action Grant, in conjunction with English Nature, to offer support (up to 50%, to a max. of £500) to landowners for work which will conserve and/or enhance the biodiversity of South Gloucestershire.

Contact Richard Aston, Principal Officer, South Gloucestershire Council, Civic Centre, High Street, Kingswood, South Gloucestershire BS15 9TR. 01454 863725 or 07775 704914 Richard.Aston@southglos.gov.uk

Orchards GOG has assisted with:

Financially through the generous grant of £10,000 from Severn Trent Community Recovery Fund:

  • Fishponds Community Orchard  (previously called Thingwall Park Community Orchard), Bristol
  • Cutsdean Orchard
  • Chipping Campden School
  • Churchdown Community Orchard
  • The Orchard Trust, Forest of Dean
  • Lower Slaughter Parish Orchard
  • Individual Flood Victim Mark Campbell
  • Highleadon Green Association.
  • Thrupp Community Orchard
  • Abbeymead Primary School
  • Gastrells Community Primary School, Stroud
  • Elmbridge Infants School
  • Priors Park, Tewkesbury

Also:

  • Tewksbury C of E Primary
  • Glenfall Community Primary (Cheltenham)
  • Belmont Special Needs School (Cheltenham)
  • Hillview Primary (Gloucester), Kingsholm Primary (Gloucester)
  • Abbeymead Primary (Gloucester)
  • Charlton Kings Junior school

Although the Severn Trent grant has now been used up, please contact us if you would like to be placed on a reserve list should further funding be forthcoming from elsewhere.

We have, of course, given advice/information to hundreds of other orchards throughout the county, including schools, community groups and individuals.  We have also assisted the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species with hundreds of orchard surveys, coordinated by Anita Burrough and Martin Hayes (GOG’s chief surveyor).

Schools Advice is available on our School orchard page »

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