York’s ‘peace tree’ is for the chop.

The Norway Maple in St Helen’s Churchyard, set back from Davygate, was planted in 1995 to mark 50 years of the United Nations Association.

But it has been struck down by a fungal infection and is dying off.

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 there was a risk of branches falling off because of the disease.

Not everyone is on board with the decision though. Recently the tree was festooned with banners and flags campaigning to “Save the World Peace Tree”.

New planting

The notice on the tree
Ms Campbell said: “We would love to save the Peace Tree, but unfortunately like peace it is dying.”

The tree originally came from Scotland, 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 tree is becoming dangerous and has no long term future, Ms Campbell said.

The placards to save the tree were still in the churchyard

A planning notice issued by the city 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.

The small area off St Sampson’s Square was originally the churchyard of the nearby St Helen’s Square, 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.