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Forest crime in Cornwall is on the up during lockdown

Forest crime in Cornwall is on the up during lockdown

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:01am 3rd May 2020.

Photo above: Aftermath of fire at Roughtor

Suspected arson, damage to trees and mountain bike trail building are just some of the dangerous incidents Forestry England rangers have discovered in woodlands in Cornwall and West Devon during the ongoing lockdown. 

Forestry England car parks and visitor sites remain closed in a bid to support the government’s advice to Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.

But work continues to look after the nation’s forests, producing sustainable timber for use in UK construction, furniture, fencing, and for heating.

While the Forestry England team adjusts to a new way of working in line with social distancing, they are at work monitoring woodlands only to find scenes such as these. 

Chainsaw damage caused by trespasser(s) in private woodland
chainsaw damage caused by trespasser(s) in private woodland

“We are saddened to see people are using this expanse of spare time to intentionally damage property and landscape. Our rangers are still out working, looking after the nation’s forests, and we are appalled to have found numerous sites across the county where people have apparently set fires, cut down trees, and created new mountain bike trails - endangering themselves, others and wildlife. This is unacceptable, illegal and dangerous.

“I am particularly worried for our beautiful forest and landscape of Roughtor. In recent weeks, a number of fires have been started deliberately, causing damage to wildlife, newly planted trees, and stock fencing. These fires pose a massive risk to the forest and the open moor, as well as placing additional strain on emergency services during the current crisis.”

              John Ebsary, Forestry England forester for Cornwall

Fire site and damaged fencing at Roughtor
Fire site and damaged fencing at Roughtor

Forestry England undertakes rigorous checks and processes before carrying out any forest operation or creating any new walking or cycling trails, including monitoring for protected species, such as badger setts and nesting birds.

The individuals who are damaging the nation’s woodlands seem to have no such regard for the wildlife that calls the forest home.

“It is a concern that we are investigating several intentionally set fires on Forestry England land and on Bodmin Moor. We are appealing for further help from the public to support us in our drive to reduce rural crime by being our eyes and ears on the ground. We advise farmers and local communities to remain alert to suspicious people and vehicles and always report them to the police by calling 999 in an emergency or by emailing 101@dc.police.uk. Farmers can also sign up to Farm Watch schemes and Devon and Cornwall Alert, a two-way messaging system operated by Devon & Cornwall Police that tells you what is happening in your area: https://alerts.dc.police.uk/”

             PC Chris Collins, Rural Affairs Officer for Devon & Cornwall Police

Illegal mountain bike jump built at Abbeyford Woods nr Okehampton
Illegal mountain bike jump built at Abbeyford Woods nr Okehampton

Need to report an incident? 

  • If anyone has any information about dangerous or illegal activities in the forest, please contact the Police on 101 or report it to Forestry England on westengland@forestryengland.uk

What is Forestry England?

  • Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, with over 230 million visits per year. As England’s largest land manager, we shape landscapes and are enhancing forests for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. For more information visit forestryengland.uk. 

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