REPORT FOR WOLDS END ORCHARD (UPDATED 2020)
A Habitat of Principal Importance
Report by Steve Oram, People’s Trust for Endangered Species
I work for the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) as a specialist on priority habitats, particularly traditional orchards. PTES created and manage the traditional orchard habitat inventory on behalf of Natural England and Defra. Traditional orchards are designated a Priority Habitat in the Habitats Directive, Section 41 (habitat of principal importance). They were awarded this status in 2007 for their high levels of biodiversity and importance on a national scale.
It has been brought to our attention that Wolds End Orchard, a sizable and important habitat parcel, is under threat of development.
The wholesale destruction of mature veteran fruit trees and the associated hedgerows and long- established grasslands beneath is of major concern due to high biodiversity, heritage, cultural and amenity value. Like ancient woodland sites, there is no mitigation that can feasibly compensate for the loss of the habitat provided by mature veteran fruit trees, short of planting another orchard nearby and managing it for 50+ years before removing the old one.
The orchard directly abuts a Conservation Area. The impact of its development on the character of the CA should not be underestimated. There has been an orchard on this site since before the 1st Edition OS maps were produced in the 1830s, and orchards are an important part of the cultural heritage of the town.
The local acreage of traditional orchard has declined roughly 92% since c.1930 more or less in line with the rest of the country, making this surviving example vital for both the unique range of habitats it provides and the landscape character of Chipping Campden. An on-site condition assessment of the orchard in 2008 recorded between 30 and 100 veteran mixed fruit trees, standing, fallen and canopy deadwood habitats, branch and trunk crevices and holes, fruiting fungi, notable old hedgerows, a significant lichen population, mistletoe, areas of scrub development and nearby non-fruit veteran trees. This array of habitat types creates a ‘mosaic’ which serves to support more species than would each element alone.
Beyond the fact that ridge and furrow is an important landscape feature of the Cotswolds in and of itself, the lack of disturbance on this site indicated by its presence would have allowed time for a diverse grassland sward to develop.
Although this site may seem a convenient location for development, this is far outweighed by the impact on area character, biodiversity and heritage landscape.
Steve Oram | Orchard Biodiversity Officer | 020 7062 8618
People’s Trust for Endangered Species | 3 Cloisters House | 8 Battersea Park Road | London | SW8 4BG