National Trust: orchards are disappearing from the landscape
According to a National Trust study, orchards are disappearing from the landscape, with an area the size of the Isle of Wight lost since 1900.
The loss of more than half of England’s and Wales’ orchards is having an impact on flora and fauna, according to the organisation. Orchards have been razed to make space for housing and agriculture. The southwest has suffered the greatest decline.
Many of the orchards that were once on the outskirts of our towns and cities in the 18th and 19th centuries have been lost to urban expansion and often remain as map evidence or street names only, said Annie Reilly of the National Trust.
For generations, the vibrant display of springtime blossoms has been a part of British tradition and culture, with orchard fruit trees among the first to bloom.
Flies, bees, bats, and birds can all be found in traditional orchards. Patrolling bats have a home in the knotted trunks and branches of trees while pollinating insects eat the blooms.
The researchers used data sets provided by Natural England and The People’s Trust for Endangered Species with artificial intelligence to analyse old maps maintained by the National Library of Scotland.
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Modern and traditional orchards have dropped by 56% in England and Wales, with only 43,017 hectares (106,297 acres) available to grow today – an area slightly larger than the Isle of Wight. Traditional orchards in England and Wales have decreased by 81 per cent (78,874 hectares/194,902 acres). Today, Kent has the most overall orchard cover of any English county. It is one of just three English counties, along with Suffolk and East Sussex, that now has more orchards than it did 100 years ago, thanks to the planting of more modern orchards.
As part of its goal to plant and establish 20 million trees across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland by 2030, the National Trust has pledged to plant four million blooming trees.