The maintenance of trees and shrubs within the York Minster Precinct will be the subject of a planting and maintenance strategy being developed in consultation with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
Commenting on the strategy, Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, said:
“The trees and shrubs within the Precinct provide a peaceful and beautiful green haven that is greatly enjoyed by York’s residents, workers and visitors year round. They also have a huge biodiversity value for insects, wildlife and other plants and they soak up vast amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air. This draft strategy sets out the approach that we will take to the management of trees and shrubs within the Precinct for the long term.”
Alex explained that as well as the care and maintenance of trees and shrubs, the strategy will also include a planting schedule for new trees such as beech, lime, crab apple and cherry and the continuation of the Minster’s policy to only remove trees and shrubs that are dead, diseased, dying or unsafe. He said:
“All trees have a natural life cycle and have to be managed when they become too big or sickly. In a few weeks’ time we will have to remove two laburnums which are now structurally unsound as a result of their crowns being damaged by storms. We will also have to fell a sycamore which has suffered years of squirrel damage, and an ash tree and a cherry tree – both with split trunks as a result of rot invading the heartwood. Removal is always a last resort and is only done on the advice of a qualified and experienced tree surgeon.”
However Alex added that every loss creates an opportunity for new trees. The Minster’s replanting programme focuses on native species wherever possible. He said:
“The five trees will be replaced with 12 new ones – crab apple trees (Malus Floribunda). Crab apples were selected following discussions with the RHS. The species is appropriate for this part of the Precinct and is resilient to both climate change and extreme weather events. The trees which are semi-established and are already three to four metres tall will offer abundant spring blossom for bees and fruit for birds in the winter.”
The draft planting and maintenance strategy will eventually form part of York Minster’s Neighbourhood Plan which sets out plans for the future care of the Minster and its Precinct.