Maintenance and preservation of mixed orchards

Maintenance and preservation of mixed orchards
Mixed orchards are extremely species-rich habitats which require regular. © Yann Kohler

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Tourism and leisure, Nature protection, Municipalities

Affected habitats

Grassland, Arable land

Description

Mixed orchards are a characteristic and attractive feature of the cultural landscape in many Alpine regions and are among the most valuable patch biotopes. Due to the structural diversity in mixed orchards and the resulting diverse mosaic-type habitats, they provide a habitat for a wide range of species of flora and fauna. Scientific studies have shown that mixed orchards – unlike modern dwarf-tree intensive production systems – form very richly structured habitats with species-rich communities. As a result of their declining economic significance, and being fairly high-maintenance, however, more and more mixed orchards have been cleared in recent decades or have fallen victim to ageing. However, in intensively used agricultural landscapes, they constitute important connective structures in the local biotope network. The conservation measures for these areas must include arrangements for mowing, fertilising, management and maintenance, the preservation of ageing trees, etc.

Impact

Impact in particular on Small mammals, Big mammals, Reptiles, Birds, Insects
Ecological impact  
Improvement or preservation of habitats Mixed orchards constitute habitats that are particularly rich in structures and species due to the diverse fruit varieties, the varying tree maturities and the various structures associated with meadows with an abundance of species and flowers. They accommodate up to 5000 species of flora and fauna.
Element of ecological network They constitute important connective structures in the local biotope network, particularly in intensively used agricultural landscapes.
Other Mixed orchards have a positive impact on the local climate due to their windbreak function and their cooling effect in summer. Soil protection and water pollution control, conservation of genetic diversity.
Time of realisation for measure Long term: Their positive impact on flora and fauna comes mainly from their structural diversity: in the case of replanted orchards, this only occurs with time and in existing orchards it is only possible with regular, expert maintenance.
Impact scope Local (municipality): In itself, a mixed orchard has a high ecological value as a patch biotope, which is increased significantly when it forms part of a network comprising several nearby areas.

Implementation

Implementation period Weeks: The requisite expert maintaince of mixed orchards comprises several different and regular tasks throughout the year (mowing, pruning, harvesting, tree management, …)
Frequency Recurring: Regular maintenance is needed for valuable stands of trees.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Low (1'000-10'000 EUR): Replanting costs in the region of €2500-5000/ha depending on the planting method, preparatory measures, tree density etc. Depending on the land, number of trees and working time, subsidies or aid are granted for product marketing, which vary greatly from region to region.
Socio-economic impacts Medium: On tourism through the enhancement of the landscape, on the regional economy and identity through local products (labels, old fruit varieties, juice etc.)
Sources of financing Private sponsor, Other private sources, Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation The Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive deal indirectly with the mixed orchard habitat. They specify a direction while the concrete implementation is based on the precise provisions of national laws, guidelines, promotion programmes and initiatives (in Bavaria, subsidies of approx. €5/tree, max. 100 trees/ha).

Further information

Evaluation Various projects within the framework of the 'BayernNetzNatur' (Bavarian Nature Network) biotope network have shown that initiatives relating to mixed orchards not only have positive effects on the inhabitant flora and fauna, but also play an important role in issues such as regional value-added and development, the formation of regional networks, creation of identity etc., and that biotope network projects can be structured around such 'core initiatives'.
Information Germany: From regional and national authorities (nature conservation, agriculture) and, for example, the "Streuobst 2000 Plus" initiative from the Bavarian agricultural authority to promote the cultivation of mixed orchards in Bavaria.
Contact Germany: Expert: Stefan Kilian, Bavarian State Research Center of Agriculture, Institute for Agricultural Ecology, Organic Farming and Soil Protection (LFL-IAB)

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