To call an area of green space ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ is something of a misnomer. There is no such thing in the whole of the UK as a completely wild space – man and his animals have been modifying the locally available flora and fauna to a greater or lesser degree for the last 6,000 years (since the end of the last Ice Age). In that time a range of ecological sub-systems has evolved in response to topography, climate, and human intervention. These sub-systems or habitat types people recognise as highly desirable and to be valued – lowland deciduous woodland, chalk downland, lowland heath, water meadow, etc. and within these types, a huge range of microhabitats with their own complex systems of interdependent flora and fauna have been identified. Each has been created as a result of human action, with or without the significant impact of introduced /domesticated animals. Continued human intervention with a narrow agenda such as food production or housing reduces these habitats severely, but conversely without the continued input of some human management these valued rich habitats would decay and decline slowly to a poorer and more restricted eco-system of impenetrable scrub forest.
So, to retain this small green space in as rich and biodiverse condition as we can and continue to enjoy it we need to manage it sympathetically. What does that entail?
The orchard is under light-hand management by pruning the fruit trees and mulching them, but we do not spray with insecticide or herbicide.
The meadow areas are mown at least once per year in Autumn ( and if possible in early Spring) and the arisings remove. They are also enriched with wildflower seed to the extent possible – on this, there is a long way to go.
The shrubs, bushes and smaller trees – including the hazel- are managed by pruning, coppicing and hedge laying. The larger trees are inspected and pruned for Health & Safety purposes by the local authority.
The Kempshott Conservation Group volunteers have a site management plan which involves approximately 6 site visit for working on The Orchard between October and April.
On 2 or 3 of these occasions, we have an agreement with the Worting Scouts that they will join us in maintenance work, and whatever other aspects of nature or scouting they wish to pursue.
In addition, we have events in the Orchard:
a) to thank the volunteers for their effort and enjoy a summer picnic in June/July,
b) to harvest the fruit in September/October and
c) to engage children in exploring and enjoying nature( events for cubs, scouts etc).