Bid to boost orchards in North East Wales

A project to boost orchards around North East Wales is gathering pace.

Once a common sight in the British countryside, orchards have now become rare and have been listed as a priority habitat for conservation.

Late last year, Flintshire County Council and the North Wales Wildlife Trust bid for, and received funding from the Welsh Government to plant and restore orchards in North East Wales. Over the winter we have been busy identifying new orchard sites and surveying and restoring existing orchards, working with Denbighshire and Wrexham County Councils on public and private land.

The North Wales Wildlife Trust and Plas Derw Forest School are visiting schools in the next few weeks, talking to the schools about orchards and planting fruit trees with the children.

As part of the project we have produced a booklet which provides an introduction to orchard management. The booklet will be launched and given to attendees of our practical workshop on orchard management which we will be running on Saturday 10 March at Highfield Hall, Northop Hall between 10am and 3pm.

The practical workshop day on 10 March is aimed at anyone who wants to learn how to establish and manage an orchard; workshops on planting, pruning, grafting and pressing will be running all day. So why not drop in and have a go? The day will give you a chance to get hands-on practice of orchard management techniques and get advice from our experts.

Traditional orchards are assumed to be over 60 years old and have often grown on the same area of land for hundreds of years; they are planted at low densities and avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides in favour of grazing and natural pest control. The orchards traditionally associated with North East Wales are dominated by apple varieties and range from formal orchards to a selection of trees distributed evenly throughout hedgerows. In addition to apples; pears and plums, damsons, walnuts and cherries also have significance in North East Wales. An orchard can provide a refuge for wildlife in our landscape. The combination of fruit trees and grassland that have often been undisturbed for hundreds of years and avoided any agricultural improvement results in an environment that is immensely rich in biodiversity.

To book onto the workshop, or for more information, contact sarah.slater@flintshire.gov.uk Booking is not essential.

Photograph by Stuart Body
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