Cllr Claire Dowling is pictured at the site in West Park where recently planted saplings appear to have been poisoned.

Saplings die after being poisoned at West Park

Saplings next to a footpath leading to the West Park nature reserve in Uckfield appear to have been poisoned.

The saplings were planted to replace mature trees felled two years ago after being stricken by a fungus which could have spread to other trees.


Massive stumps remain where trees were felled after being stricken by a fungus. Dead saplings can also be seen in this picture.

Massive stumps can still be seen behind houses in Hart Close just off Bachelor Way. At the time they were felled they were treated with an herbicide to get rid of the fungus.

The herbicide was low level and carefully chosen to do the job while avoiding contamination of a water course running beside the trees.

Twelve saplings planted this spring seemed to be doing well but now some are dead while others are dying. Two are thought to be in shock and likely to die and there are signs of leaves dying on two more, which were originally thought to have escaped the attack.

Wealden Council’s deputy leader, and district councillor for Uckfield Central, Cllr Claire Dowling said: “We may lose all of them yet.”

She was angry and upset about the loss of saplings along with two other mature trees which also seemed to have been targeted. There was evidence of soil disturbance around the roots and die- back on surrounding vegetation.

The council had chosen its time carefully to replant the area. They left the land for two years to make sure the original herbicide had been washed away.

Cllr Dowling said they knew the original herbicide was not responsible and there was only one conclusion to be drawn, that the saplings had been deliberately destroyed. Officers confirmed the saplings had been poisoned by ‘persons unknown’.

“I am angry and really sad that anyone could do this. It is a terrible sight,” said Cllr Dowling.  “This is nature, we don’t have enough trees. It is hard to believe someone would come along and spray and destroy not only the saplings we put in but two mature trees as well.”

Cllr Dowling would be pleased to hear from anybody who might have more information about what happened to the saplings. She can be contact by email at

The matter has been reported to Police.

saplings _before

At first it was thought this sapling had escaped being poisoned like others in the row but there are signs that this too is affected.


These two saplings are thought to be in shock and dying after being deliberately poisoned.


Two more saplings deliberately targeted with a poison. The earth has been disturbed around the tree roots. Die-back can be seen in the undergrowth too.

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