PEOPLE who enjoy St Ives Country Estate have been assured new life will return to a woodland area subjected to extensive felling to contain a disease.

Hundreds of non-native larch trees had to be removed from Betty’s Wood, which occupies part of the Bradford Council-owned estate outside Harden, to prevent the further spread of a virulent disease which kills a variety of species.

The felling finished early this year, and large parts of the wood now contain little more than stumps, dead branches and mounds of broken up timber.

Most of the largest trees still standing are Scotch firs, which are not susceptible to the phytophthora ramorum disease.

But the Friends of St Ives group has said people upset by the wood’s current desolate looking condition can look forward to its rebirth, with a range of native species to be planted later this year.

Pam Laking, chairman of Friends of St Ives, said trees due to be planted by the council will include oak, disease resistant elm and indigenous blossoming trees such as wild cherry, rowan, crab apple, and alder buckthorn.

“The wood will look beautiful in future, even more so than it looked before,” she noted.

“And one idea which is particularly nice is that the blossoming trees will be planted right along the pathways.

“This will be a proper English woodland, which is much better for wildlife.

“What we had before were mainly larch trees, which had been planted together in 1948, and were quite limiting in terms of wildlife habitat.

“While there are still a lot of rhododendron branches lying around these will be cleared too, and all the rhododendron in St Ives will have to go, as these are carriers for the disease.

“However, once this plant has gone it will open things up for other species, as rhododendron makes it very difficult for other plants to grow nearby.

“In its absence we will have scrub plants, ferns and brambles which are great for other types of wildlife.”

Mrs Laking said a firm link to the past would be preserved in the new wood, as about 2,000 acorns have been collected from the area’s original oak trees, which will be used for the replacement oaks.

“The original oaks were planted in the 19th century by the Ferrand family, who owned St Ives for centuries,” she said.

“So I think it’s good that we’ll be keeping this continuous thread of history going.”

She said the length of time it would take the new trees to mature could be gauged by nearby Memorial Wood, which she added was making very good progress after being planted 15 years ago.

In the meantime, she urged dog walkers to restrain their pets from running amidst the debris in Betty’s Wood, warning that the stumps and other timber has many sharp edges which can injure dogs.