The Thomas Blake Memorial Garden, Ross-on-Wye, was dealt a devastating blow when a golden pine in the wildlife garden was illegally cut down.

The incident was reported to West Mercia Police, however nothing can be done to return the 70-year-old tree to its place.

It filled a spot in the Margaret Lucas wildlife garden—a segment of the wider memorial garden, owned by Ross-on-Wye Town Council—who have confirmed it was not cut down by them. It appears like the tree was cut down using professional equipment, with the debris left behind. Garden maintainers are devastated by the damage.

The tree was likely cut down on Friday, September 30, or Saturday, October 1. Garden maintainers have estimated the value of the tree at £5,000, but that the figure is arbitrary next to the value it has to the community.

Ross town councillor Rob Taylor is chair of the Blake Memorial Garden committee and has worked on developing the arboretum for the town.

He said: “With the arboretum, when I planned it, I thought the council would have to pay for the trees, but they didn’t because everyone wanted to get in on it and they all sponsored a tree, it’s really good, people are really behind it, and then you get things like this where the tree just cut down.”

He added: “This is a conservation area so there’ll be another tree going in its place.”

Margaret Lucas donated the patch of land to the Blake Memorial Garden as a wildlife habitat; instead of being neat-and-tidy it’s meant to be more wild and natural for the benefit of wildlife. Margaret, who passed away in January 2013, worked with many groups including Merton House, the British Legion, and the Lions Club, but will be remembered especially for her work with Ross-in-Bloom.

Around the golden pine, is a bed of logs, sticks, and branches, which provide a home for countless critters and insects, suitable for those that need shelter to hibernate over the winter months.

The decomposition of the natural matter also improves the health of the soil in the