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York celebrates the Queen’s Jubilee with a Diamond Wood

The University of York is celebrating the Queen’s visit to York and her 60-year reign with the creation of a very special Diamond Wood on its new £750m million campus extension at Heslington East.

Elizabeth Heaps, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Estates and Strategic Projects with Gordan Eastham, Ground Maintenance Manager and Alistair Crosby, Regional Manager North for the Woodland TrustThe University’s Diamond Wood is the only one of its kind in North Yorkshire.

A 24 hectare site on the University’s new Heslington East campus at Kimberlow Hill has been chosen by the Woodland Trust to be one of just 60 Diamond Woods in the UK – one for each year of Her Majesty’s reign – under its Jubilee Woods project.

The area of new native woodland will form a lasting, living legacy celebrating Her Majesty’s reign, as well as supporting local wildlife and providing an area for the York community to enjoy for generations to come.

So far, more than 16,700 trees – all native to the British Isles – have been planted. 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 should attract a broad range of insect and bird life, and develop an interesting woodland ground flora.

Elizabeth Heaps, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Estates and Strategic Projects, said: “It is a great honour to have been chosen to create a Diamond Wood in Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year. We are working with colleagues at the Woodland Trust to create something very special which we believe will provide a fabulous local resource, helping inspire a love of trees and woods.”

To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Woodland Trust aims to bring millions of people together across the UK to plant six million trees. With Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal as Patron and the Queen’s backing, the Jubilee Woods project will create hundreds of Jubilee Woods in addition to the 60 special Diamond Woods.

Georgina McLeod, Project Head at the Woodland Trust, said "We are absolutely delighted that the University of York has chosen to create a prestigious Diamond Wood. 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.

“Not only is this a chance to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee but it’s also a chance for people to improve their local environment and create somewhere for residents to enjoy and be part of. In just 10 years the trees will be taller than the average person and the woodland will be full of wildlife for many people to enjoy.”

The new Diamond Wood at Kimberlow Hill forms part of the landscaping for the University’s £750 million campus extension at Heslington East, one of the biggest capital developments in UK higher education in recent years.

Improvements to biodiversity

The Heslington East campus extension is providing an opportunity to dramatically improve the biodiversity of the former arable farm site.

The landscape has been carefully designed and formed, and includes a naturalistic lake and wetlands for wildlife. Planting has been meticulously planned to take account of the ground conditions and the environment the University wishes to create.

Across the 116 hectares site, of which only 65 hectares can be developed, 55,000 trees have already been planted. Together, the wooded areas, lake and grassed areas are all playing a large part in establishing an extensive biodiversity in the area. Birdlife in particular is already expanding with the arrival of many new species, including rare ground nesting birds, such as the little ringed plover.

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