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Ancient trees culled

PUBLISHED: 16:56 24 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:35 23 August 2010

THREAT: Ashenbank Wood.

THREAT: Ashenbank Wood.

ANCIENT trees in a historic woodland have been hacked down after suffering storm damage 23 years ago. Bosses at Ashenbank (Cobham) Woods said their removal was part of an ongoing plan to manage woods, which date back to the Bronze Age in 1600 AD. A year

ANCIENT trees in a historic woodland have been hacked down after suffering storm damage 23 years ago.

Bosses at Ashenbank (Cobham) Woods said their removal was part of an ongoing plan to manage woods, which date back to the Bronze Age in 1600 AD.

A year ago at least 100 silver birch trees were removed to make way for a horse bridleway in the woodland.

But the cull sparked a furious reaction from fog walkers who claim too many trees are being given the chop.

Mrs Bowen, 39 of Pepperhill, Northfleet, runs her own dog walking company Dogs Best Friend, and visits the woodland every day for several years.

She said: "I walked around these ancient woodlands with my heart in my mouth as the Woodlands Trust have cut down at least 150 trees in the past couple of weeks and destroyed what was once a beautiful ancient woodland.

"Why have the Woodland Trust been allowed to do this? I thought it was their policy to protect ancient woodlands, clearly here they are not doing this."

Ashenbank Cobham Woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It lies within Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the complete woodland has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

The woods are linked to Cobham village to the south and Shorne Woods Country Park on the north side of the A2.

Mrs Bowen added: "In the years I have been walking in these woods it has been reduced by over half and when will it stop?

"They also want to introduce cattle at some stage but with all the dog walkers around here that's not going to work.

"It seems as thought they are trying to change it in to a park, rather than a woodland."

Dog walker Kerry Owen, 40, from Northfleet, said: "It's disgusting. We've not got many woodlands in Gravesend and they are destroying it."

Clive Stewart, the Woodland's Trust site manager, said: "The felling work at Ashenbank Wood is part of ongoing work to restore areas of original wood pasture, which were traditionally areas of open woodland, by removing secondary trees which have over the years crowded the space available to and taken light from old growth trees.

"A very small number of the felled trees have been removed because of damage which occurred in the 1987 storm. In these cases, the trees had been badly damaged and were literally growing horizontally, thus affecting the growth of surrounding trees."

He said the bridleway was being developed to appeal to different users.

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