Conservation at The Hawthorns

November 22, 2009

For the past decade The Hawthorns has been involved in environmental projects.  The farm entered into The Countryside Stewardship scheme in 2003 with an agreement lasting ten years. The reasons for doing this include gaining recognition for existing good working practices, obtain funding for additional works and encourage native fauna and flora to be restored to the countryside. This was a project that was originally initiated by the Countryside Commission to improve the environmental value of farmland thoughout England.  As a result of the Countryside Stewardship scheme The Hawthorns has undertaken replanting of the old apple and perry orchard, replacing missing trees with local varieties of apple, pear and plum.  Approximately one kilometre of hedgerow have been replanted using traditional species such as holly, hawthorn and blackthorn. The pond has also been restored, dredging it to return it to its original size and creating inlets for ducks and wildfowl.

By restoring these habitats, wildlife species also benefit because they have somewhere to live and survive.

Old and New Trees in the Orchard

Old and New Trees in the Orchard

One of the fields has been left fallow for ground nesting birds to have an undisturbed habitat. Due to mechanisation and the move to Autumn planting many of these birds have suffered and their numbers have declined dramatically.

One of the environmental features that have been included as part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme are field margins. These are strips of ground that are left uncultivated between the hedge and the crop and are between 2m  and 6 m in size. These margins provide wildlife corridors for a range of wildlife species including hares and barn owls. They are also havens for wildflowers because the field margins are not sprayed with herbicides which kill them off and the strips are not mown so the plants have an opportunity to seed.

Giving the new plants a good start

Giving the new hedge plants a good start

In addition to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, The Hawthorns signed up to Entry Level Stewardship Scheme in 2005. Anyone who owns or manages agricultural land is able to join. This is run by DEFRA- The Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs. This scheme replaces Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (another environmental scheme).  You are issued with a Handbook and can pick environmental management options to undertake on your land. Each option, such as pollarding trees (this is when willow trees are cut off at head height to encourage new growth and stop the tree splitting and getting disease) is allocated a number of points.  The scheme is non-competitive, so as long as the total of points you accumulate is equal to 30 points per hectare over your whole farm then your application becomes an agreement.  All agreements are paid a fee of £30 per hectare.


One Response to “Conservation at The Hawthorns”

  1. henry johnson on November 29th, 2009 11:16 pm

    Great to see a traditional orchard being restored, especially one with perry pears. Nice blog. Keep up the good work with ELS!

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