Staff and volunteers have been left to count the cost of damage, and clean up litter and broken glass, after late night barbecues at an Uckfield beauty spot.
The Woodland Trust is facing a bill of more than £2,500 because of the actions of careless campers and vandals at Lake Wood, off Rocks Road, Uckfield, on the back road to Piltdown.
The site is a celebrated beauty spot, with ancient woodland, rock outcrops and a lake providing vital homes for wildlife.
However, an increase in summer parties and camping at the site has meant litter and vandalism have been on the rise – with many visitors throwing rubbish over a 20ft cliff and into the lake below. A boat has been hired previously to fish the debris from its depths.
In addition, the lake overflow pipe has suffered extensive damage, meaning water levels have dropped; the resulting emergency work will potentially add yet another £1,000 onto this summer’s bill.
Damaged safety fencing also needs to be completely replaced, totalling a further £1,500.
Campfires have caused particular alarm as they not only scorch the soil, but could catch and spread in drier weather.
David Bonsall, site manager for the Woodland Trust said: “Lake Wood is a stunning location, and is a precious habitat that we at the Trust have worked hard to safeguard and restore.
“We don’t want to see it ruined by mindless individuals. I’d urge anyone who sees damage being done to contact ourselves and local police. Any help people can offer by litter picking during their walks is very much appreciated.”
Camping, fishing and barbecues are not allowed at Lake Wood.
The local police can be contacted on 101, and reports regarding the site can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Wood is a 19-acre site, filled with a variety of tree, shrub and wildflower species, and features an old carriage drive and cave-like boathouse.
It is home to dormice and almost 60 species of bird, including kingfisher and heron.
You can find aerial footage of the site by going to: https://vimeo.com/104401635.
The Woodland Trust cares for more than 1,200 woods across the UK. To find out how to support this work, go to: woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us.