The Woodlands and Riverbanks are cherished by local people.

It takes a good deal of management to maintain the trees and pathways to keep them safe for people to visit and a haven for wildlife.  Most of the woodlands we see today are made up of trees planted in the 18th century when the area was developed as a planned landscape. 
Trees live for hundreds of years. All woodland management needs to take the long-term view. Today’s woodlands and the buildings they surround are what is left of a ‘romantic’ planned landscape created in the 18th Century. It was set out at a time when wealthy residents of houses along the Bailey created large gardens. Key features were formal promenades, such as Prior’s Walk, ice houses, Prebends’ Bridge (which carried the Great North Road over the Wear) and the Count’s House.

Although there has been some natural regeneration of the woodlands, as trees have seeded themselves, most of the trees are the same age and will start to die off in the coming years. Some are already beginning to decay and, whilst they provide a rich habitat for wildlife, it is important that they do not become a danger to the public.

A survey has been conducted of all of the trees to identify those that are dangerous. Those requiring urgent attention have been felled this winter - when the work was least disruptive to wildlife, and some of the rotting timber has been left to provide a home to mini-beasts, which are in turn food for birds and other creatures. Further selective felling will take place in future winters.

The Woodlands and Riverbanks have been divided into different zones. An area of the outer bank has been set aside for nature conservation and there will be no access routes through this area. In other parts of the woodlands, we have created six new viewing points with interpretation and have improved access routes.