A TRUST has defended its decision to fell ancient trees by stating that it will allow a wood to flourish.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust owns Dole Wood, Thurlby, and this week felled 18 trees on the request of Natural England.
The move has been meet with disappointment by Joyce Stephenson, of Obthorpe Lane, Thurlby, who had campaigned for the retention of the 200-year-old trees.
Last year Miss Stephenson collected 327 signatures for a petition to save the trees at the wood – which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Workers began felling the trees on Monday and were finished the following day.
The Wildlife Trust has issued a statement defending its decision to go ahead with the felling.
It states: "Ancient woodlands such as Dole Wood are not only the result of nature, but also human influence over thousands of years.
"All of the most important woodland nature reserves across the country involve carefully considered tree felling programmes as part of their management plans. These managed woodlands are by far the most rich for wildlife.
"At Dole Wood the special features of the wood are changing and work is needed to rectify this.
"Many of the trees are of the same age and have formed a dense canopy; preventing natural regeneration of the wood's understory – an important feature of the wood and one of the reasons for its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
"To slightly reduce the tree canopy cover and encourage natural regeneration, 18 trees are being removed.
"The work being carried out affects less than three per cent of the wood. This work is being carried out at the request of Natural England. The work has a full felling licence, granted by the Forestry Commission.
"The removal of trees from any woodland is an emotive issue but this work will allow the woodland to flourish and be safe for the enjoyment many generations to come."
Miss Stephenson maintains that the trust has made the wrong decision in felling the trees, which she says are part of our natural heritage.
She said: "I remain convinced that the felling of these trees was wrong and this is supported by the site of special scientific interest legislation.
"Even though people tell me I have done everything I can this is of no satisfaction or consolation when the wood is in the process of being destroyed."