UK: Unnecessary, botched and over-zealous maintenance in Oxhey Woods

What is it about people with chainsaws who think that it’s ok to
disregard and even try and re-educate those who don’t think the places
they enjoy need the trees “managed,” as in logging? –Deane

Residents living near Oxhey Woods say unnecessary, botched and over
zealous council maintenance work has brought devastation to the
historic beauty spot. Three Rivers District Council, which owns the
250 acre site, is working to remove all Rhododendron shrubs from the
woods – an action it says will benefit trees and plant life. Furious
walkers, however, claim the work is both damaging and unnecessary.

They say heavy handed contractors – using mechanical diggers – have
achieved little save for the “desecration” of hundreds of years of
history. Liz Hamilton-Smith, who has enjoyed the woods with her family
for more than 27 years, is pleading for the work to stop. She told the
Watford Observer that it has so badly affected the water table that
many previously pristine footpaths are now more akin to a muddy
battle-field She said: “The level of damage is appalling. Nobody is
saying that control of the Rhododendrons is not necessary but this
level of destruction is unacceptable. “People have enjoyed these
plants for more than 100 years – we can’t understand why they [the
council] want to eradicate them. They have desecrated the woods.” Mrs
Hamilton-Smith, who lives in South View Road, added: “Many footpaths
are nearly impassable, particularly to older people. “The diggers have
caused such heavy ruts that it’s dangerous for some people to walk
through. This damage will take years to years to repair.” Rose Lukic,
another former woodland walker, added: “It’s so bad in there at the
moment that I’ve stopped going in. I’ve got back problems so walking
over the mud is very difficult for me. It’s a real mess and such a
shame – they’ve wrecked the place.” The council will spend around
£25,000 on the project, half of which will be met by the Forestry
Commission. Council officers say the work is necessary to maintain
effective biodiversity and to encourage other plants to flourish.
Many residents, however, claim the money would be better spent
attending to more pressing needs – not least the removal of fly-tipped
rubbish and burned out vehicles. Graham Butler, of Sandy Lane, another
regular walker through the woods, added: “As a taxpayer I would far
rather they left the woods alone. “Instead of wasting time and
taxpayer’s money during a recession the council should be clearing the
burnt out motor bikes which have been there for more than a year and
the piles of fly-tipped rubbish.”

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