Kilmington landowner who felled trees is ordered to replace them

A landowner who cut down more than 200 mature trees in Kilmington has been ordered by the Forestry Commission to plant new ones. 

Philippa Davies

The trees, mainly oaks and beeches, were felled in February 2021. They were not subject to a protection order, but it is an offence to fell a large volume of timber without a licence from the Forestry Commission. 

The Forestry Commission visited the site after the trees had been cut down, and, following an investigation, issued the landowner with a ‘restocking notice’ last month. The notice requires the felled trees to be replaced with 945 new ones by the end of June 2024. The Commission will accept natural regrowth, but if this does not provide enough trees the landowner will have to plant them. He has been told that the newly planted trees must be a mix of field maple, willow, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, sycamore and elm. 

The Commission also stipulates that, for 10 years after planting or regeneration, the new trees must be properly protected against damage and the site must be adequately weeded and maintained in accordance with good forestry practice. 

The notice has been welcomed by one local resident who described the felling of the trees as ‘sheer environmental vandalism’. He said he had been shocked when he first saw the hundreds of sawn stumps on the land, and that the felling had caused ‘widespread public concern among residents of the village’. Not only had it destroyed some trees that could have been hundreds of years old; there was also the loss of a valuable habitat for wildlife, possibly including some protected species. 

He added that, while he was pleased that the Forestry Commission had taken action, he was surprised that the landowner had been given such a long time to replant the site, and also that the new trees would not be oaks and beeches to replace those that had been cut down, but different, faster growing species that would not achieve the same height. 

The Forestry Commission has been approached for comment on these issues, but at the time of writing has not given a response.