Good news for squirrels

19 trees were planted in Dickson Park this week by a team of volunteers from the Foxwood Residents Association and AVIVA. The trees were supplied by DEFRA. The project was so popular with neighbours and passers by that several offers of sponsorship were received.

We are now led to understand that the York Council’s new “forest” will be planted on land boarded by Wetherby Road, Knapton, the cycle path and Harewood Whin. The precise boundaries have not yet been revealed.

New “forest” in west York

There are some mixed feelings about the plan which, unless government funding can be obtained, could cost local taxpayers over £1 million.

The site is currently in agricultural use and self sufficiency in food production could become more important over the next few years. No economic or environment analysis of options has been published

The land is currently planted ready for a spring harvest

While there is a precedent for the Council managing local farms (they did so in the last century in an attempt to sustain a supply of land for new tenant farmers) the scale of the forest venture is new.

It has the advantage of potentially helping to reduce pollution levels.

One advantage of the location (if the speculation in the media is correct) is that it is close to the popular Rufforth – Knapton cycle track.

NB. The Council, while saying it has obtained 10 acres of land for tree planting “on the inner ring road”, has still not confirmed where this is located.

UPDATE. According to Cllr Nigel Ayre posting on twitter this is a map of the site. If correct, then part of it straddles Wetherby Road

York Council to buy 150 acres of agricultural land for new forest.

Refuses to reveal location but cost will be £1.65 million!

The Forest GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

In one of the most bizarre proposals to come before the York Council, officials are recommending buying agricultural land “within the York boundary” which will subsequently be planted with trees. It says only that it is located in the Green Belt.

The forest scheme is intended to offset a proportion of the CO2 emissions generated within the City.

The Council says it can’t reveal the location of the new forest “for commercial reasons”.

While many residents will support the objective of the initiative, the lack of background information on the scheme is extraordinary.

There is no indication of the grade of the agricultural land in question. At a time when greater food self sufficiency is a high priority for the country, relative priorities must surely be fully evaluated before productive land is lost?

The report also says that the new forest – which might be designated as a “stray” – will provide new accessible paths and trails for York residents.

Officials point to the health benefits of greater exercise.

They are right, of course, as we have seen during lock-down. But the Council’s position lacks credibility as it has failed to maintain existing paths and trails, some of which are now inaccessible because of neglect.

The absence of any maintenance and management strategy for any new wood is one of the major omissions from the report.

The Council also quotes (rightly) the need to encourage pollinators (bees and other insects) but again fails to evaluate the effect that planting more woodland would have against providing – for example – wildflower meadows on the land.

In total the Council expects to spend £3 million on establishing new woodland and strays around the City.

It will need to do a lot more work, if taxpayers are to be convinced that this is an effective, and thoroughly thought through, reaction to the global conservation challenge.

NB. In the Westfield area, local Councillors promised 12 months ago to promote the adoption of “stray” status for Acomb Moor. There has been no recent update on the progress that they have made.

More trees coming but what about maintaining existing ones?

More trees are set to be planted this year as part of the Councils response to climate change. 50,000 are promised.

Officials say that the programme has been delayed by the heath scare although little progress seems to have been made in securing sites for the “forest”.

Over the last few months, residents have laid informal claims for the use of some unused areas of land on the City outskirts as informal exercise areas. These would be a good place for the Council to start looking for locations for planting although it does own several sites, including some near the river, which could accommodate more trees.

Informal walks through Acomb Wood, and the like, have brought home to more people the value of informal leisure space. Any Council initiative is likely to have popular support if it is pressed through quickly now.

Hopefully they will remedy the mistakes of the past and avoid planting inappropriate species of trees too close to paths and highways.

We have already learned that nearly £500,000 is required to repair part of the York – Selby cycle path which has been badly damaged by tree roots. One lesson is the need in the future to install “root shields” at vulnerable locations.

Roots damaging cycle paths

There are similar problems in the urban area

Root damage on snicket link to Thoresby Road. We’ve reported litter and weeds on the same snicket.
Similar hazard on Tudor Road
In same cases private hedges are now obstructing footpaths
The Council have now promised to trim the branch which is obstructing a footpath in the Kingsway West area
Weeds on Front Street. The council has treated some weed growth around amenity trees but has missed others. Doesn’t seem to be any consistency in their programme.