The Woodland

Woodland management work will be carried out at the Wild Woods Play Areas over the next few months. The small area of existing plantation woodland was originally planted densely by the military, and the trees fought for light and resources.

Due to the extreme weather conditions last summer, some of the trees have been found to be failing, and the sycamores are infected with Sooty Bark disease, which was triggered by the hot weather. The diseased trees, along with the risk of unhealthy trees falling means that they will have to be removed.

We have sought advice from experts as part of this maintenance, and have worked closely with the Forestry Commission to ensure the work is being completed in the best way.

The new trees that will be planted will take the shape of a more natural and diverse woodland with a canopy of varying height and a richer habitat for nature. Work will begin to remove the trees next week, followed immediately by work to prepare the land for new trees to be planted. Large, mature trees (40 years old) will be planted in the autumn, along with whips and shrubbery to produce a more varied habitat for nature. While these works are carried out safety fencing will remain outside the Wild Woods Play Area to allow the trees to settle into their new habitat and to give them the opportunity to flourish.

We aim to have the play area open in Spring 2024, and will review the site regularly to ensure that no area remains closed for longer than is absolutely necessary. We look forward to opening this revamped and thriving space for nature and play as soon as possible.

What the woodland will look like in summer 2024

Waterbeach woods CGI of the Woods in Summer 2024
Waterbeach woods CGI of the Woods in Summer 2024

Woodland FAQs

Why are the trees being removed?
The trees are being removed because they have been found to be failing. Some are infected with sooty bark disease, which is fatal for trees. They will be replaced with a more diverse range of trees of varying canopy heights, that create a more natural woodland, and a more welcoming habitat for wildlife.
Why were some trees removed before, and these are only being removed now?
Some unhealthy trees were removed as part of the initial landscaping of this area, to allow the remaining trees to flourish. We tried to save as many trees as possible, but unfortunately due to the extreme heat last summer the trees that remained in the area have been found to be unhealthy and unsafe.
Will the trees be replaced like for like?
The plantation that currently exists was installed by the military and forms a more uniform woodland. We will be replacing the trees with a more diverse and natural woodland and shrubbery which may include oak, silver birch, wild cherry, bird cherry, field maple, hornbeam, rowan, hazel, hawthorn, dogwood, holly, wild privet and spindle. This will create a woodland with varying canopy heights creating a more varied habitat for wildlife.
Is sooty bark dangerous to humans/other trees?
Sooty Bark is a disease that can lay dormant in sycamore trees for many years and is triggered by extreme weather, such as the very hot summer in 2022. It can cause respiratory issues in humans when exposed to large numbers of spores, so it’s important that the diseased trees are removed from this public area.
When will the new trees be planted?

Work began immediately to prepare the ground for planting. The first large trees will be planted week commencing 16th October 2023 and continuing throughout the autumn. 

Will the new trees be whips or mature trees?

The trees will be a mix of large, mature trees, whips and shrubbery. The aim is to create a canopy of varying height which creates a more natural woodland, allowing all the trees to thrive and to create a habitat for nature. There will be 340 new trees, 417 woodland shrubs and 63 woodland climbing plants. Of the new trees 69 will be mature trees, 218 semi-mature and 56 whips.

Species include: 

  • Beech
  • Field Maple
  • Cherry – including Wild and Bird Cherry
  • Linden
  • Rowan
  • Black Alder
  • Silver Birch
  • European Hornbeam
  • Pussy Willow
  • Checker
  • Whitebeam
  • Crab Apple
  • Elm
  • Scots Pine
Why are these trees being removed now when birds may be nesting in them?
The trees will be checked by an ecologist to ensure that there are no animals nesting in them before they are removed. Removing the trees now will stop the disease spreading further and enables the area to be clear and ready for trees to be planted in the autumn.
Why aren’t all the trees being replaced straight away?
Work will begin to prepare the land for planting as soon as the trees are removed. Mature trees (40 years old) will be planted as soon as possible, followed by whips and shrubbery. The trees are all being replaced as soon as possible and in line with tree planting season.
What is happening with the trees that have been removed?
The sycamores will need to remain on site and be disposed of safely, as they are diseased. The poplars will remain on site and be moved to a site on the north of the development where they will become a hibernacula for wildlife. This means that we will be able to encourage wildlife and nature to find a home on the site, and has the added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint of removing the trees.
Will the woodland play area be accessible?
The play area will not be accessible while the trees are being removed, and the new ones have time to settle. We aim to open the play area as soon as possible in Spring 2024, and will open as much of the space earlier if possible, but in order to ensure that it is safe, the new trees need to have time to settle into the space.