THE ban may go against the grain for dendrophiles such as King Charles but a Spanish village is set to forbid visitors from hugging its trees.

The authorities in Cabezón de la Sal, in Cantabria, northern Spain, say that tree-hugging tourists are endangering its protected 2.5-hectare sequoia forest.

Óscar López, the mayor, said more than 200,000 tourists visited each year and that their wish to relieve stress by hugging the trunks was taking a toll on the forest.

“The trees are weakening because of the people who come to hug them. The bark is degraded — some even take pieces of bark as souvenirs,” he said.

As well as being “stripped bare”, many of the 840 trees in the redwood forest are having their roots left exposed by “soil erosion caused by visitors stepping on them”.

At present there is no express prohibition on touching the trees, though visitors are asked not to.

To enforce a ban, the municipal council is considering creating walkways to prevent people from approaching the trees. Access to the woodland may also be regulated.

“Maybe we will have guided tours, with a reservation, to visit it in a controlled manner,” López said.

The trees were planted in 1940 and the intention was to use their wood for industry.