'Heartbreak' as vandals destroy trees at Manor Road Community Woodland, Keynsham

Published on: 07 Jun 2014

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Volunteers who help to look after a 64-acre woodland on the eastern edge of Keynsham have uncovered a trail of destruction left by vandals, who have ripped down young trees and lit fires.

The damage has been discovered in a section of Manor Road Community Woodland that was planted just 10 years ago, with around 15 trees snapped or sawn down and others stripped of their bark, without which they won’t survive.

A number of the trunks were thrown into a nearby pond, bordering Plaishets wildflower meadow on the A4 side of the woodland, with members of the Friends of Manor Road Community Woodland group spending several hours removing them.

Further investigation revealed a trail of broken tree trunks and branches strewn on the ground, several spots where fires had been lit, a number of tools left behind and a den created with a sheet of tarpaulin. The Friends group say they believe the vandalism has been taking place over a month, with some visitors reporting sightings of groups of youths in the area.

One member said: “We don’t object to young people using the woodland for dens, we even have a number of children’s groups who come here and use the woodlands for lessons in skills such as den-building.

“This is a community woodland and it is here for everyone to use – but what we do object to is this kind of wanton vandalism.  It is heart-breaking to see these trees destroyed.”

Evidence of fires has also led to safety fears for the coming months if there is a very dry summer in which a blaze could easily spread. Manor Road Community Woodland vandalism

In other incidents, logs from the new slow worm habitats installed in the meadow have also been taken in the last few weeks, while two noticeboards in the woodlands had to be repaired earlier in the year following acts of vandalism.

The Friends group was set up in 2001 to help manage the council-owned woodland and meadow areas on behalf of local people, with all signs, walkways and wild flower planting a result of fundraising and grants obtained by the volunteers.

The group is now due to meet with Keynsham Inspector Sarah Treweek, who said the vandalism at the site was a criminal offence.

She said: “This is something that the police take very seriously. Manor Road Community Woodland is there for everyone to enjoy – in fact, I went for a jog there the other morning, and it really is lovely.

“Cutting down trees or damaging them in any way is, quite simply, a criminal offence. Looking after our countryside is something I feel passionate about, and I look forward to meeting with the group that takes care of this site to discuss longer term solutions.

"I would ask that if readers see anyone committing such vandalism, to contact their local police at Keynsham – this can be done via the 101 number.”

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