Ghost hunters and vandals at a Kent wood have forced the Woodland Trust to stump up nearly £50,000 in security and clean-up costs.
Over the last three years, the conservation charity has spent just under £41,000 employing a security firm at Dering Wood in Pluckley, near Ashford, which has a reputation as one of Britain’s most haunted hotspots due to screams heard in the night.
Between 2012 and 2016 the Trust has also spent £6,070 on regular litter picks, clearing away rubbish and cleaning or replacing vandalised signs.
Site manager Clive Steward said:
“Dering has always attracted ghost hunters due to the noises that come out of the woods but the screams they hear are nothing more than amorous foxes. The damage being caused by these overnight visits is unsustainable. We have to employ security guards to evict people from the wood after dark and then we have to break up camps and deal with the damage caused by fires or vandalism.
“As a charity we rely on donations from people as passionate about trees and conservation as us. We shouldn’t have to dig into our much–needed funds to patrol the woods and clear up the mess left behind by irresponsible visitors.
“We want people to enjoy the woods, but to consider other users and treat the site with the care it deserves.”
Night-time activity is also a risk to the varied wildlife in the woods.
Mr Steward added:
“Dormice, bats and badgers are all nocturnal animals which live at Dering. All have European Protected status, and all are at risk of being disturbed. We want to drive out the anti-social behaviour, not our wildlife.”
Dering Wood is an ancient, semi-natural woodland. It harbours an amazing array of plants as well as wonderful wildlife, such as nightingales, dormice and many species of butterfly – but no ghosts.
Notes to Editors
Media inquiries to Dee Smith on 01476 581121 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.
The Trust has three key aims: i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.
Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.