Work has started to improve the woodlands and riverbank area around Durham Cathedral so that the famous setting of the landmark building can be ensured into the future.
In 2011, Durham Cathedral was awarded a £287,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to rejuvenate the woodlands and riverbanks.
The three-year project is being coordinated by part-time project officers Gina Davies and Julie Gowland, who are delivering a wide range of activities, including environmental education sessions on the riverbanks, guided walks, public events, voluntary opportunities and woodland management projects.
Much of the woodland in the project area is over-mature and in need of management to improve its structural diversity to secure its long-term future and to improve conditions for biodiversity.
A detailed arboricultural health and safety survey has been carried out on the riverbanks which identified trees that posed a risk to the safety of visitors.
These were categorised into high, medium and low-risk specimens. The highest risk trees have been removed and the new phase of work will see medium and low risk trees targeted.
The operation will involve a combination of felling, pruning and removal of deadwood to make the woodlands safe and to improve the site for biodiversity by opening up the canopy. Some of the planned work will also improve sight lines.
The work is being carried out by Oliver’s Tree Services Ltd and is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award, Banks Community Fund and the Friends of Durham Cathedral. A cathedral spokesperson said: “During this time, visitors may experience some disruption to footpaths. We apologise for any inconvenience.”
The Very Rev Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham, said: “Durham Cathedral is indivisible from its landscape environment.
“The wooded peninsula and deep river gorge give the cathedral its unique and spectacular setting.”