Vandals uproot saplings planted by children in Baldock

VANDALS have uprooted more than 30 saplings after children and their parents planted them on Saturday morning to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Helping Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners’ Association, 15 adults and 15 children volunteered their time to plant a wood of 100 trees on allotment land next to Ivel Springs Local Nature Reserve in Baldock.

Phil Charsley, the association’s general secretary, said: “I was pleased how many people turned out to help, and we had the planting done in less than two hours, although members of the association had spent the previous two mornings preparing the site.

“It looked so good, and everyone went away feeling they had done something to improve the environment and to celebrate a special year.”

But the following morning, reports came in that the site had been vandalised. The association’s chairman, Mick Camp, and Mr Charsley visited on Monday to inspect the damage.

“Someone must have done the damage on Saturday afternoon or evening,” said Mr Camp. “Tree guards, canes and saplings had been pulled out of the ground and scattered on the site.

“We only found three of the more than 30 saplings that had been pulled out. It is so disappointing for the children and parents who planted them. “We have done our best to repair the damage and we will ask the Woodland Trust, which supplied the trees, if we can have replacements to plant in the autumn.”

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The allotment association plans to manage these trees by coppicing, using the resulting prunings for peas sticks and bean poles. “This is a traditional way of managing trees and taking a crop from them,” said Mr Charsley, who is also chair of Friends of Baldock Green Spaces - an organisation which helps with the management of Ivel Springs.

“Coppiced woodland is a special ecosystem, and is probably the system used here years ago, when Ivel Springs was a wetland.”

The vandalism has been reported to Herts Police. Anyone with information can call the force on 101, quoting crime reference number G3/12/94.