Fury after vandals attack rare trees in Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 14:18 01 September 2017

Malcolm Relph with what's left of the trees that were broken from the green area by Link Drive, Hatfield. Picture: Danny Loo

Malcolm Relph with what's left of the trees that were broken from the green area by Link Drive, Hatfield. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Vandals have angered Hatfield residents after destroying two rare trees gifted to the town six years ago.

Malcolm Relph with the tree stumps in Hatfield. Picture: Danny LooMalcolm Relph with the tree stumps in Hatfield. Picture: Danny Loo

Where two of the three Wollemi pine trees once grew in a small wooded area near the skate bowl, there are now stumps.

The three prehistoric trees, usually only found in the deepest, darkest rainforest of Australia, were planted in Hatfield in April 2011.

But yesterday, Hatfield resident Malcolm Relph spotted that two of them had been damaged and contacted Welwyn Hatfield Council to report the vandalism.

He has picked up the broken off pieces of tree and kept them in a bucket of water in the hope that someone with horticultural knowledge may be able to propagate them.

Proud moment back in 2011: Councillor Mick Clark, Welwyn Hatfield mayor Howard Morgan, Richard Walduck OBE, Virginia Morgan, Hatfield Town Council chairman John Hawkins and Hatfield Town mayor, councillor Linda Clark planting a Wollemi in Hatfield.Proud moment back in 2011: Councillor Mick Clark, Welwyn Hatfield mayor Howard Morgan, Richard Walduck OBE, Virginia Morgan, Hatfield Town Council chairman John Hawkins and Hatfield Town mayor, councillor Linda Clark planting a Wollemi in Hatfield.

He told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “These ignoramus morons have damaged these trees for no good reason and I’m absolutely furious.

“There is about 12 inches of tree left sticking out of the ground.

“They have obviously snapped them off and thrown them at each other.

“It’s unacceptable.

“These two trees have been annihilated.”

The cluster of trees, on the other side of the road from Queensway House, were planted when they were three years old and just four foot high.

They were bought and donated by 2011’s High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Richard Walduck.

MR Walduck OBE has ancestral links to the first English settlers in Down Under, as well as links to the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, where these Jurassic trees can be found.

This species of tree was long-thought extinct, growing on earth around 200 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the planet.

But the trees were discovered alive in 1994 when bushwalker David Noble found them in a rainforest gorge within the 500,000 hectare Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains, 200km west of Syndey.

The revelations led to years worth of scientific investigation before commercial exploitation began in 2007.

A council spokesman said: “We’re currently investigating what has happened to the trees and will be visiting the site to make an assessment.”

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