Leading-up to the hottest day on record for the UK, 40oC in Southern England, COPSE and partners have been busy watering newly planted fruit trees on all of our orchards. Many of the orchards were parched and dry, however Puttenham Orchard (photographed above), a chalk downland site was surprisingly fairly verdant with many plants still in flower, such as Marjoram. As well as watering, weeding and applying mulch helps fruit trees, by reducing competition for water from other plants and reducing evaporation from the soil. Liphook Parish have a 10,000 litre rain harvesting tank to help water Fletcher’s Field’s trees.
As well as the Climate Crisis we are also entering a Biodiversity Crisis and orchards managed sympathetically for nature, such as Eashing, could help nurture biodiversity locally. During July as part of Eashing Cemetery Remembrance Garden inaugural task we conducted a butterfly counts on this site, as part of the Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count. Elsewhere in Surrey, the Royal Holloway University planted-up a Heritage Orchard to help Biodiversity on their Campus, see their Youtube-link. With a requirement for Councils to ensure Biodiversity Net Gain through the Environment Bill 2021, perhaps Community Orchard could help locally, to retain biodiversity hot-spots?
(10) The Making of the Royal Holloway University's Heritage Orchard and Campus Biodiversity | Part I - YouTube
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Gareth is an ecologist interested in conserving traditional orchards and heritage fruit, for people and wildlife.