Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal officially opened a new community Diamond Wood at the University of York as part of the celebrations to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The Woodland Trust chose the 60 acre site at Kimberlow Hill on the University’s new £750 million Heslington East campus extension as one of just 60 Diamond Woods in the UK – one for each year of Her Majesty’s reign.
The only Diamond Wood in North Yorkshire, it will support a wide range of wildlife, as well as providing a fantastic area for the local York community to enjoy.
The Woodland Trust aims to plant six million native trees across the UK under its Jubilee Woods project, providing a lasting, living legacy to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Three million trees have already been planted and this forthcoming planting season will see the final challenge to meet the target and help green our environment.
As Patron for the project, The Princess Royal planted a ceremonial oak tree at the University of York wood on Tuesday, 18 September, and officially declared it open.
So far, the University has planted 55,000 trees, all native to the British Isles, of which 23,000 form the Diamond Wood at Kimberlow Hill. Another 10,000 are due to be planted at Kimberlow Hill this autumn, the majority of which will be planted during a community action week in November. The trees represent a wide range of species including field maple, alder, hornbeam, ash, wild cherry, oak, mountain ash, yew, lime, hawthorn, holly, crab apple and blackthorn. Together they will form a mixed deciduous woodland, which will attract a broad range of insect and bird life, and develop an interesting woodland ground flora.
Professor Brian Cantor, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, said: “It was a great honour to welcome Her Royal Highness to York. Our new Diamond Wood will both improve local biodiversity as well as providing an inspiring area for local people to explore, relax and enjoy.”
Georgina McLeod, Head of Jubilee Woods at the Woodland Trust, said: "We are absolutely delighted that HRH The Princess Royal was able to officially open the University of York's prestigious Diamond Wood. In just 10 years these trees will be taller than the average person and wonderful for wildlife. We very much hope that this inspires other landowners and communities to join us in paying a very special tribute to The Queen, while at the same time creating something living and lasting to hand on to future generations."
The new Diamond Wood at Kimberlow Hill forms part of the landscaping for the University’s campus extension at Heslington East, one of the biggest capital developments in UK higher education in recent years.
Landscaping, including a naturalistic lake and wetlands for wildlife, as well as the wooded areas, is dramatically improving the biodiversity of the former arable land. Birdlife in particular is already expanding with the arrival of many new species, including rare ground nesting birds, such as the little ringed plover.
Elizabeth Heaps, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Estates and Strategic Projects, said: “The development of Heslington East has created a number of new habitats, including areas of wetland, species-rich grassland and native woodland, with the boundary of the site marked by important retained hedgerows.
“Working with colleagues at the Woodland Trust, we believe we are creating something very special at Kimberlow Hill which will help inspire a love of trees and woods for many generations to come.”