Dog walkers and nature lovers in Benhall and Hatherley are concerned that a popular local wood could be for the chop.
Notices have gone up in Benhall Wood – on green land near Robert Burns Avenue and Bibury Road on the Benhall estate – saying about a quarter of the wood’s trees will be cut down to allow others to grow and to encourage light, and therefore more plant growth, into the wood.
But Graham Howls, who walks his dog in the woods every day, is against the scheme.
He said: “The wood has been there for at least 65 years and I’ve been walking my dog in it for more than 40. It’s very well used – dog walkers are here and children ride their bikes in it and make tracks and ramps.
“I think it’s fine as it is.
“The high canopy means there’s room in the woods and that it’s cool on a hot day.”
Many of the trees to be felled have already been marked with a spray-painted ‘f’.
Mr Howls said: “More than 50 trees have been marked. We don’t think that cutting them will help the undergrowth. The place is too well used and the kids playing in here will damage any new trees coming up. We don’t mind that, it’s a good place for them to play and rid their bikes and the woods seem a good balance between nature and use by people.
“There are muntjac deer who are present here at night and the early morning and it’s an absolute haven for squirrels.”
Mr Howls added: “It seems an imposition for the council to decide to cut down the trees when this wood is really popular and a good habitat for wildlife just as it is now, it’s doing fine the way it is.”
Cheltenham Borough Council say the felling will get rid of poorly-growing trees and allow ‘better’ specimens to thrive.
Chris Chavasse, trees officer for Cheltenham Borough Council, says: “This area of Benhall Woods is more than 50 years old and is now overcrowded, which is affecting the growth pattern of most of the trees and comprising their long-term health.
“Good woodland management encourages the best trees and removes poorer trees.
“To achieve a healthy growing environment in these woods about a quarter of the current stock will be removed – and these will predominantly be the smaller, poorly formed and structurally compromised trees. This will allow the remaining trees to expand and grow into to their full potential.
“Any holes in the canopy layer will be filled quickly by new branches of the trees that have been retained. Where possible, we will leave standing deadwood to attract lots of different wildlife.
“In the long term, this work will ensure the wood’s survival and improvement.”