AROUND 300 trees have been vandalised just a month after they were planted.

Darlington Council and the Darlington Forest Project planted the trees in Lakeside, Darlington.

Andrew Gibson, a member of the Darlington Forest Project, said: "As volunteers we've been planting trees. I am a runner so I go past and check on them. Over the course of a week or 10 days every single tree has gone, 300 trees have been taken down, it's a public right of way.

"If it was kids the smashed trees would have been discovered close by. It was maybe a dog walker or somebody who has taken issue thinking they've got their own right of way.

"It's absolutely appalling, it's a community project. It's better for the environment and better for the local area. It's just been trashed by someone."

Councillor Andy Kier, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for local services, said: “We are aware of the damage caused and are incredibly disappointed. We take pride in our open spaces and want to increase the number of trees in the borough. However, it’s extremely difficult when we’re battling mindless vandalism. I would urge anyone with information to contact the police.”

Volunteers joined forces with Darlington Borough Council and its park rangers to start work on the ambitious scheme to plant up to 20,000 new trees across the borough.

READ MORE: Bangor student investigates trees outside woodlands

The move forms part of the council’s newly adopted Tree and Woodland Strategy which could see fruit orchards planted in the borough’s parks and up to 20,000 new trees planted, double the number than what was originally proposed. In addition, it could see two trees planted for every single tree lost.

The council’s park rangers have teamed up with volunteers from the Darlington Forest Project and have been planting a variety of trees on sites around the borough including Beechwood, Rockwell Nature Reserve, Morpeth Avenue, Eastbourne Park, Lakeside and Faverdale Park.

Mr Keir, said: “We have now agreed a Tree and Woodland Strategy for Darlington that sets out our plan of action for the coming years. This will ensure Darlington plays its part in preventing climate change and protects and enhances its natural heritage for the benefit of generations to come.

“We are keen to work in partnership with Darlington Forest Project and other groups that are planting trees, ensuring the most appropriate trees are planted in the ideal locations. Working together we can also share resources and maximise the benefits and deliver more than what may be possible individually.

“I look forward to seeing, and helping, plant more trees across the borough in the months and years ahead.”

This story originally appeared in the Northern Echo.

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