A NEW community woodland area in York, that could see 50,000 trees planted, has been proposed by the council. 

The plan seeks to create a new community woodland within the city– which could see 50,000 trees planted by 2023.

As part £3m Northern Forest budget agreed at the Budget Council in February, the council want to purchase 150 acres of agricultural land in the West of York, as well as 30 acres of land adjacent to the A1237 to plant a further 8,000 trees. 

The council added that details of the precise location and the value of the offer are currently commercially sensitive this early in the proposal.

The plan is part of the Northern Forest initiative, to plant 50 million new trees across the north of England. 

This includes a plan to plant 200 hectares of trees in the Upper Swale, Ure and Ouse – protecting York against severe flooding events.

The project will seek advice several organisations, including the Woodland Trust, the Stockholm Institute, the Wildlife Trust, the University of York, St Nicholas Trust and the Wood Meadow Trust – providing advice on which species of the 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.

Cllr Paula Widdowson, executive member for climate change and the environment, said: “In 2019, we committed to the ambitious target of becoming net-zero carbon by 2030. Our ambition to plant 50,000 trees within the city boundary by 2023 aids in achieving this aim.

"The land identified will provide 150 acres of woodland – perfect for visitors and recreational users to enjoy.

“This new woodland will bring health and leisure benefits for residents and visitors, as well as significantly increasing biodiversity by turning farm fields into a fantastic local amenity of diverse broadleaf trees.

“Many organisations, including the Woodland Trust, have carried out numerous case studies highlighting the mental and physical health improvements woodlands can provide. It is estimated that £2.1 billion savings to the cost of running healthcare nationally could be made if every household in England were provided with good access to quality green space.

“Most importantly, it is a new wooded area we can all enjoy in our leisure time, which will increase the amount and quality of diverse habitats for our wildlife, whilst also improving the city’s air quality, with the woodland acting as a carbon sink absorbing some of the emissions produced in York.”

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, executive member for transport, said: “Creating opportunities 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.

"And will deliver value for money in health economic terms. The new woodland will create jobs and provide new skill sets for a city-wide ambition for green jobs across the broader region.”

At next week's executive meeting, on August 27, the executive will be asked to agree to a vision for the woodland proposal, to inform the design and layout. 

This will be consulted upon as part of the early community engagement activity.

This story first appeared in the York Press.

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