Tree experts at the Peak District National Park Authority are urging national park residents to contact them before starting any tree work on their property.
Trees are an important feature in the villages and countryside throughout the national park for the environment and wildlife as well as aesthetic reasons.
Tree conservation officers Dave Goodwin and Dave Frost are concerned at the recent and widespread increase in illegal tree cutting around the national park. Fines of up to £20,000 can be incurred for damaging or illegally removing trees.
The cause of the problem is believed to be the demand for firewood which has risen due to the increase in energy prices.
Trees can be protected by law if they are in conservation areas and by tree preservation orders, planning conditions and the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This means that permission is needed before any work on a tree can be carried out.
Dave Goodwin said: “We want to encourage good tree management and care and retain trees in our villages with minimum fuss and maximum encouragement. In some cases we are able to help with grants towards the work.
“Sadly some important and attractive trees have been disfigured or completely lost simply because people have failed to contact us before the work is done.”
The officers have written to all parish councils in the national park calling for their help in raising awareness with residents of the need to contact the tree conservation officers before any tree work is started.
Dave Frost said: “Over the past few months we have had to take people to task where illegal tree work has been done and it could have been avoided if people had contacted us first.”
To contact the Authority’s tree conservation officers telephone 01629 816200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org