Ripon canal branches out for crop of trees

River trust staff planting trees. (1303194AM1)
River trust staff planting trees. (1303194AM1)

A crop of healthy new trees have been planted along the canal following an outbreak of ash dieback disease.

Eleven field maple trees, an oak tree and around 100 hawthorn whips hedges were planted by 15 volunteers on Tuesday, March 19, after the Canal and River Trust raised £1,000 from public donations.

Environment manager for the Canal and River Trust Jonathan Hart-Woods told the Gazette: “Thanks to the generosity of local people and others who have supported the Canal and River Trust, we’re now able to start work in safeguarding this valuable landscape.

“Originally the plan was to replant the area with ash trees but the recent Chalara disease, which has killed many ash trees across the country, meant we had to change our planting plans for the canal.”

Mr Hart-Woods added: “To help us deliver the improvements we’ve attracted some great volunteer support which will help keep the canal a real attraction for Ripon residents and people who visit here.

“As a new charity it’s important to us that the local community understand the work we do, support their local environment and heritage and help us continue to make sure our canals and rivers are protected for years to come.”

The Canal and River Trust – which took over the running of 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales from British Waterways in July 2012 – launched an appeal in July to raise funds for the planting of new trees, as the current crop of trees between Renton Bridge and Oxclose Lock has been dying back because of ash dieback disease and old age.

Chalara dieback is a serious disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Chalara fraxinea. The fungus causes leaf loss and crown dieback in diseased trees, which usually leads to tree death.

A special oak tree – called ‘Julie’s oak’ – was also planted on the day in recognition of the trust’s hard-working waterway operative Julie Freytag, who has worked along Ripon canal for 20 years.

Mr Hart-Woods said the tree was a “fitting tribute”.

“Julie’s well-known to locals and visitors to the canal for the hard work and dedication she puts in keeping the canal landscape looking so natural,” he said.

“Hopefully ‘Julie’s oak’ will become as much a part of the canal landscape as Julie herself.”

l If you are interested volunteering for the trust along Ripon canal or elsewhere in Yorkshire, contact Claire McDonald at or on 0303 040 4040. Visit to become a friend of the trust.