Old orchards were once a common feature throughout the countryside, but small traditional orchards are increasingly rare.
As well as containing some of our rare fruit tree varieties, an orchard can be a really valuable habitat for a wide range of species, from fungi and lichens, insects and other invertebrates, to birds and mammals (small and not so small). The absence of herbicide use in most old orchards often contributes further to the range of species that can be found. With more intensive systems of fruit production, old orchards can be under threat.
The living branches and the surfaces of bark and exposed wood of old orchard trees play host to a variety of mosses, lichens and often mistletoe. The hollowing trees can be a wonderful habitat for hole-nesting birds. The large amount of deadwood in the trees provides an important habitat for insects and fungi including some very rare ones. For example, the Noble Chafer Gnorimus nobilis is a UK priority beetle associated with old orchards.