What are the 'triple bottom line impact' accounts for orchards?
Accountants talk the language of business and government; money talks. People used to dealing in business can maybe grasp priorities if pound signs are attached - and as such the accountant has an important role in supporting sustainable development. During this project, what has also become apparent is that the accounting discipline, focusing on collecting all the data necessary to generate a set of accounts in a prescribed format, may also help to ensure that an investigation that has been as broad as this one can be pulled together powerfully.
Internationally, there has been much detailed and specialist work on the value of nature especially by considering human interaction with nature - using questionnaires, interviews and panels to consider for example willingness to pay. In this project, we looked to apply these sorts of techniques in a reasonably simple manner, heavily involving local people in the process. Working with Forum for the Future, we have developed a new approach, which is really a pilot to indicate what might be possible and to focus attention. The interpretation of results must however take into account the fact that this was a small, limited project that sought to use local people in the evaluation and therefore its findings must be seen as indicative only.
We considered the 'triple bottom line' impacts of orchards - a broader accounting framework that considers the constituents of sustainable development - economic, environmental and social impacts - and found ways to express them in financial terms. The impacts were identified with the cross-interest Orchard Topic Group.
We focused upon an evaluation of nine key individual impacts - three economic, three environmental and three social impacts identified by each local community. We have also been considering the distinct 'sense of place' of each orchard - but we will not be attempting to attach a financial value to this. By charting as spidergrams, we can compare the triple bottom line 'profiles' of different orchards.
By charting the annual value of the triple bottom line impacts as spidergrams, we can compare the triple bottom line 'profiles' of different orchards:
Henhope is a 4 hectare organically managed traditional cider apple orchard in an isolated location.
Salt Box orchard on the Garnons estate is a 5 hectare cider apple orchard with bush trees and sited alongside the main road to Brecon.
Village Plum orchard is a 6 hectare eating plum orchard close in the village of Glewstone and employing migrant labour.
Bodenham Lake orchard is managed by Herefordshire Council as a public amenity with culinary and dessert apple and pear trees. It is a remnant orchard with recent replanting.
Tidnor Wood Orchards extend over 10 hectares of traditional and half standard cider apple trees. Tidnor Wood Orchard Trust is exploring different ways of supporting the orchard and of connecting people with the orchards, including tree sponsorship and a cider apple tree museum.
Half Hyde is a 3 hectare traditional cider apple orchard alongside the main road to Worcester.
What we also recognise is that the "accounts" that we now have for each orchard consist of far more than the monetary triple bottom line impact accounts, and include photographs, the wealth of data collected, people's stories and each orchard's sense of place.