National Trust targets South West's huge orchard loss in new 'bring back blossom' campaign

Research has revealed there are 80 per cent fewer orchards in England and Wales than 120 years ago.

The South West is the region with the biggest decline since 1900 - and the National Trust wants to reverse the trend and bring blossom back into our lives, promising to plant four million new blossoming trees by 2030.

Head of gardens and parkland, Andy Jasper, said: "Previously we had a third of all orchards in the whole country in the South West, and we've lost 75 per cent.

"There is a big programme of tree planting in the UK at the moment, and we're trying to put a halo of blossom around key cities.

Andy Jasper says the National Trust wants to bring back blossom to the region. Credit: ITV News

"In the pandemic, we have all woken up to the value of green spaces and being outside - but now, with so much weird stuff happening in the world, it reminds me how important it is to have this symbol of hope. Spring just switches it on."

The National Trust says it is using modern technology to get a better understanding of the region's landscape.

Tom Dommett, head of historic environment at the National Trust, explained: “Using cutting edge technology we now have a much better understanding of how we’ve managed our landscapes in the past, which is invaluable when thinking about how to tackle the nature and biodiversity crisis that we are facing in this country.

“For hundreds of years orchards were a defining feature in many places, part of the fabric of everyday life.

"Their loss impacts on the stories we can tell, the culture and history we can experience in the landscape, and it means fewer opportunities for people to enjoy the beauty and spectacle of blossom today."

The orchard at Cotehele boasts more than 125 different types of apple tree. Credit: ITV News

New traditional orchards are being planted at sites across the South West, including Stourhead in Wiltshire, Kingston Lacy in Dorset and Arlington Court in Devon.

One hundred new fruit trees are being planted around the estate at Cotehele in Cornwall, which is already home to 10 acres of traditional orchards containing over 125 varieties of apple tree.