Fourteen mature lime trees are set to be removed as part of a 30-year replanting plan.
The trees would go from the York St John University boundary on Lord Mayor’s Walk.
It is also recommended that 20 young lime trees planted to replace the older ones also get the chop – so the university can start afresh.
The proposal would leave one side of the road bereft of mature trees for some years, until new ones can establish themselves.
York St John says the decision to remove the mature trees was “long and difficult” but would be best in the long run.
Branches are falling
York St John has applied to City of York Council for permission to fell the trees, which are in a conservation area.
A report by arborculturalist Jo Ryan says that the current plan is the second phase of a process began in 2009, after it was discovered that previous over-pruning had left the trees with a “limited safe useful life”.
Back then 13 of the poorest trees were removed and the rest re-pollarded.
Since then the remaining mature trees have developed new branch growth. But these are weakly attached to the trunks and “branches have begun to break from the lime trees”.
So for phase 2, the remaining 14 mature limes would go.
Temporary loss of amenity
Around 20 young lime trees were planted to eventually replace the existing lime avenue.
But these have not done well. “Growth is much less than expected after nearly ten years,” the report states – most likely as they are in competition for water, light and nutrients with the older trees.
So Jo’s recommendation is that all the young trees are removed and a new replacement avenue is planted.
She acknowledges that the tree removal will “inevitably lead to a temporary loss of amenity”.
But it would give the replacements a much better chance of thriving. She recommends that the new trees are not the same species – common lime – as there are other lime cultivars and species more suited to a busy highway.
“An avenue comprising different species could also be considered as way of climate-proofing the feature,” Jo writes.
Trees for future generations
A spokeswoman for York St John University said it has a 30-year plan in place to introduce healthy new trees to Lord Mayor’s Walk that will be there for the next 300 years.
“Due to over-pollarding of the existing mature lime trees in the Seventies, we are now seeing decay in the crown that makes them unlikely to survive,” she said.
“Several young trees were planted in 2006 in anticipation of this, but competition with the existing trees means they haven’t been able to thrive.”
Rob Scott, head gardener at York St John, said:
We love to plant trees at York St John and have planted hundreds on our sites throughout the city.
It has been a long and difficult decision to remove the mature lime trees, but we are confident that by removing the old trees and planting healthy new ones, we will preserve the tree-lined avenue of Lord Mayor’s walk for future generations.