MINDLESS vandals destroyed around 20 newly-planted trees at an urban forest in Gorse Hill on Sunday.

In February 1,000 trees and 25 standard fruit trees were planted by a number of volunteers, including some of the Scouts at the Hreod Burna Urban Forest to develop the open space into a valuable community asset.

But on Sunday 20 trees had their stakes uprooted, their rabbit guards removed and were bashed and broken by vandals.

Mary Farragher, a long-standing member of the Hreod Burna Urban Forest group, was saddened that the trees had been attacked.

The Gorse Hill resident said: “It’s always very disappointing when something like this happens. The Urban Forest is something for everybody to enjoy and it seems such a shame that anything like this should happen.

“It’s a long process to see everything grow and it is for the community. They haven’t just harmed the trees or the group but the whole community who enjoy the forest.”

The forest is on the site of the former allotments at Pickards Small Field and Kembrey Grass, which was threatened to be lost to housing in 2012.

Residents were outraged during a public meeting to inform residents of the controversial plans by developer Haboakus, and the community group, the Hreod Burna Parkway Conservation Group, was established. Over the past two years the group has worked hard to campaign for the site to be used as an urban forest, and to develop the land into an orchard.

Mary said: “It’s very hard work to plant trees and we have been working hard to keep this space for the community, so it is upsetting that this has happened. It will take even more work to set all the trees right again.”

The group were keen to establish an urban forest after learning about the benefit of green spaces for people’s wellbeing.

Mary said: “It has been established that an area of green with trees or flowers helps people to live longer. And it’s been proven that it’s good for patients in hospital to be able to see green and trees rather than just bricks and mortar.”

Last month the group achieved charitable status and will hold its first annual meeting on May 14 at the Gorse Hill Community Centre.

A police spokesman said: “At 12.30pm on Sunday police were called to reports of 10 youths whipping up saplings at Pickards Small Fields in Gorse Hill. “Officers went to the area but the youths weren’t there when we arrived, but one of the people at the centre managed to get some video footage which we are looking at.”