The Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS) is led by Natural England and is intended to help farmers and landowners achieve a number of environmental benefits. The scheme is implemented through local advisors, and agreements typically last for 10 years.
The goals of the scheme are wide-ranging but for those with an interest in fruit trees, the creation, management, or restoration of 'Traditional Orchards' are all potentially within scope - especially in those parts of the country where orchards have been a traditional feature of the countryside.
An annual payment is made for land falling within the scheme. In addition funding is available as a contribution towards the cost of planting new trees, as well as providing animal protection, orchard restoration and identification of existing varieties on site. It is thus a very comprehensive scheme for any landowner who is considering a new orchard or has an existing one that needs renovating.
We are familiar with the tree specification that is usually required for HLS funding and can work with your HLS Advisor if necessary. We have a range of 2-year bare-root trees on vigorous rootstocks which are ideal for the requirements of the HLS, as they have had some initial training and can be trained-on as full standards. These will, over time, grow into full-size traditional fruit trees. Our range consists primarily of old-fashioned traditional English varieties of apple, pear / perry, plum, damson and cherry.
We also have a wider range of 1-year maiden bare-root trees, again on vigorous rootstocks, and in some cases seedling rootstocks, which are also suitable for many HLS submissions. In addition we occasionally have some own-root apple trees, which some HLS advisors might accept in the scheme because they are naturally vigorous.
As well as supplying trees we can also in some cases provide professional advice on orchard restoration as well as the planning of new orchards.
More details of the HLS are on the Natural England website.
If you would like further details of how we can help you with your HLS fruit tree requirements please get in touch.