THE chopping down of trees lining a bridleway between Knapton and Rufforth does NOT mark the beginning of work on York's planned 50,000-tree 'community woodland'.

Council bosses say the crack willow trees had to be cut back because an inspection had revealed they were unsafe. Most should regrow, a council spokesperson said.

The lopped trees are on the northern boundary of what will become York's new community woodland - which is what may have prompted speculation on social media that work on the woodland was beginning.

That was not the case, the council spokesperson said.

Nevertheless, a major community consultation is expected to begin on the woodland in early March.

The ambitious plans for the new woodland will see between 50,000 and 100,000 trees planted by 2023. Most of the trees are expected to be native woodland species.

It is expected that planting will begin later this year - the tree planting season runs between October and March.

The final design of the community woodland - including any paths, seating areas, clearings, ponds and refreshment areas - will be decided following the consultation that will begin next month.

The council revealed last autumn that the purchase of 150 acres of land just to the west of the A1237 ring road at Knapton had been completed. The authority used part of its £3m Northern Forest budget - agreed at a budget meeting in February 2000 - to buy the land. When combined with adjoining land already owned by the council, the new woodland could eventually cover about 194 acres. It will become part of the White Rose Forest - which is itself part of the larger Northern Forest.

Announcing plans for the woodland last year Cllr Paula Widdowson, the council's executive member for climate change and the environment, said: “This new woodland will bring health and leisure benefits for all, as well as significantly increasing biodiversity by turning farmed fields into diverse broad leaf trees, ponds and a myriad of hedgerows."

To find out more about the new woodland, visit