The Wilshire Traditional Orchards Project (WTOP) is an organisation that maps, conserves and restores traditional orchards within Wiltshire, England. Founded in 2008 it is based at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust headquarters in Devizes. As of January 2010 the project had 200 volunteers.
The project undertakes ground truth surveys to determine the reliability and accuracy of national records, age and condition of the orchards and to distinguish between traditional and non-traditional orchards.
The results are published in the People's Trust for Endangered Species National Orchard Inventory. The national inventory is publicly available for download, or can be explored interactively.
An orchard is an intentional planting of trees or shrubs that is maintained for food production. Orchards comprise fruit- or nut-producing trees which are generally grown for commercial production. Orchards are also sometimes a feature of large gardens, where they serve an aesthetic as well as a productive purpose. A fruit garden is generally synonymous with an orchard, although it is set on a smaller non-commercial scale and may emphasize berry shrubs in preference to fruit trees. Most temperate-zone orchards are laid out in a regular grid, with a grazed or mown grass or bare soil base that makes maintenance and fruit gathering easy.
Most orchards are planted for a single variety of fruit. While the importance of introducing biodiversity is recognized in forest plantations, it would seem to be beneficial to introduce some genetic diversity in orchard plantations as well by interspersing other trees through the orchard. Genetic diversity in an orchard would provide resilience to pests and diseases just as in forests .
Orchards are sometimes concentrated near bodies of water where climatic extremes are moderated and blossom time is retarded until frost danger is past.