Page last updated at 06:43 GMT, Wednesday, 7 July 2010 07:43 UK
Help needed for orchard survey
Orchard
Over 60% of orchard fruit grown in Wales used to be harvested in Gwent

Gwent Wildlife Trust is calling for volunteers to help them map out how many orchards are left locally.

The area used to be famous for its fruit but over the years 90% of its orchards have been lost to development and agriculture or have been abandoned.

The trust has launched the Gwent Orchards Project in an attempt to count those that remain and to preserve them.

Campaigners stress that orchards not only provide fruit but also serve as an important haven for wildlife.

The Gwent area of south east Wales covers Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Newport and Caerphilly.

The trust has records that date back to the 1890s and is calling on people to help them compile an up to date survey of the area.

They would like orchard owners in the five counties, or people who are thinking of starting a new orchard, to get in touch.

Spring fruit blossom
Spring blossom on orchard trees helps to attract bees

"There are hundreds of orchards out there and people might not even realise what they're sitting on", said conservation officer Sorrell Jones.

"We can help them realise the potential of their orchard by providing advice and directing them to relevant grants, as well as putting them in touch with other people who have orchards."

Under the habitat description, five fruit trees constitute an orchard, whether they are apple, pear, cherries or even nut.

In 2007 orchards were promoted under the Biodiversity Action Plan to the same stature as wild flower meadows and ancient woodlands.

The spring blossom attracts bees and the fallen fruit feeds many threatened birds and mammals such as song thrushes and hedgehogs.

In addition, the dead wood on old trees provides a very attractive environment for many types of insects.

Whilst many projects have taken place in England to map orchards and provide advice and funds to orchard owners, the Gwent Orchards Project is one of the first to take place in Wales.

It may not get restore Gwent back to its former glory days , but the trust hopes that more and more people will realise the value of orchards and will help to preserve them for future generations.




SEE ALSO
Orchard losses 'threaten species'
24 Apr 09 |  England
Community orchard for Blaengarw
11 Dec 08 |  Nature & Outdoors
South Wales' oldest trees located
20 Apr 06 |  Wales

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