York Community Woodland location officially revealed

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Proposals to create a new community woodland within York’s boundary, which could see 50,000 trees planted by 2023, have taken an important step forward.

The purchase of land for the new woodland was completed at the end of September and the location can now be officially revealed.

Using part of the existing £3m Northern Forest budget, agreed at Budget Council in February 2020, the authority has purchased 150 acres of agricultural land that lies to the West of the A1237 ring road at Knapton.

Together with adjoining land already owned by the council this has the potential to create around 194 acres / 78 hectares of new amenity woodland for York.

The new woodland will become part of the White Rose Forest, the community forest for North and West Yorkshire and part of the larger Northern Forest.

To view the location and more information about the new woodland, visit: www.york.gov.uk/YorkCommunityWoodland

Share your woodland walk memories

The council is keen to hear what makes a woodland special to York residents, including where their favourite woodland walk is – or memories/photos of walks they’ve experienced in the past.

The council wants to hear everyone’s views and engage with as many people as possible to help with its high level vision for the woodland proposal.

More information can be found via the website and across the council’s social media channels.

Cllr Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Climate Change and the Environment, at City of York Council, said:

“In 2019, we committed to the ambitious target of becoming net zero carbon by 2030. Planting 50,000 trees within the city boundary by 2023 will help us achieve this. The land we now own will provide 150 acres of woodland – perfect for everyone to enjoy.

This new woodland will bring health and leisure benefits for all, as well as significantly increasing biodiversity by turning farmed fields into a fantastic local amenity of diverse broad leaf trees, ponds and a myriad of hedgerows.

We want to engage with as many people and organisations as possible to help develop the vision of our new woodland – this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

We all know how important outside space is, particularly at the moment. The new wooded area is something we can all enjoy, it will increase the amount and quality of diverse habitats for our wildlife, provide corridors for wildlife movement, whilst also acting as a carbon sink absorbing some of the emissions produced in York.”

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Executive Member for Transport, said:

“The new woodland will be more than twice the size of Hob Moor, so this is a unique opportunity for York residents to enjoy walking, cycling and visiting new woodland will have a long term and sustainable impact on the physical and mental wellbeing for generations to come. It will help to deliver value for money in health economic terms and will create jobs and provide new skill sets for a city wide ambition for green jobs across the broader region.”

Guy Thompson, Partnership Manager for the White Rose Forest, said:

“We are delighted that City of York Council has joined the White Rose Forest partnership and demonstrated its leadership in tackling climate change through this commitment to create a community woodland at Knapton. We look forward to contributing to the success of the York Community Woodland and helping to grow the White Rose Forest in York.”

York Community Woodland also lies adjacent to the Knapton to Rufforth and Upper Poppleton cycle/foot path and already benefits from sustainable transport links which could be extended on to the land itself.

Last July, City of York Council joined the White Rose Forest and through this partnership became part of the Northern Forest initiative. The main aim of the Northern Forest, a partnership between the northern community forests of the White Rose Forest, Manchester City of Trees, Heywoods, the Mersey Forest and the Woodland Trust, is to plant 50 million new trees across the north of England.

The White Rose Forest and broader Northern Forest partnership also provides a link into the funding opportunities available, potentially including the costs of land purchase, planting and maintenance and assistance in making bids for these funds.

Through this work the council will be supporting and demonstrating local leadership in creating a sustainable natural environment. This also enables the council to become involved in projects further afield, specifically the planting of 200 hectares in the Upper Swale, Ure and Ouse – so protecting York against severe flooding events.

Harnessing existing knowledge and expertise is an important part of the programme, in order to access and gain a wide range of advice throughout the various stages of the woodland design process, whilst also developing a lasting legacy for the next 150 years.

To deliver this the council will be working with numerous groups including the Woodland Trust, the Stockholm Institute, the Wildlife Trust, the University of York, St Nicholas Trust and the Wood Meadow Trust, as well as many other experts and interested parties.

This will include providing advice on which species of tree should be planted, how to maintain these trees in the future and how to appropriately design amenity woodland to get the most out of the space.

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