A TREE planted in York to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations is to be cut down.

The Norway Maple in St Helen’s Churchyard, near St Sampson’s Square, was planted in 1995 to mark 50 years of the United Nations Association.

It now faces removal because the tree has been struck by a fungal infection and is dying off, it has been revealed, but earlier this month the tree was festooned with banners and flags campaigning to “Save the World Peace Tree”.

York Civic Trust has been working with the parochial church council for St Helen’s to improve the old churchyard.

The trust’s Verna Campbell said an arboriculturalist had checked the tree, and found it was at risk of branches falling off because of the disease.

Ms Campbell said they would have loved to save the “beautiful Norway Maple”, and added: “We would love to save the Peace Tree, but unfortunately like peace it is dying.”

The tree originally came from Scotland, she added, and they plan to replace with at least one more new planting.

The fungus is infecting the tree’s vascular system, meaning the trunk is dying and the tree is becoming dangerous and has no long term future, Ms Campbell said.

A planning notice issued by City of York Council last year confirms that as officials consider the tree to be “in poor condition” and a risk to the public, they have decided not to impose a Tree Preservation Order leaving the trust free to remove the tree.

It adds: “It is understood that a replacement tree will be planted within the space as part of future environmental improvements.”

The small area off St Sampson’s Square was originally the churchyard of the nearby St Helen’s Church, and was moved to its current spot from a location in front of the church in what is now St Helen’s Square in 1733.