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NEWS RELEASE No: 1629726 JUNE 2014

Haldon Forest Park team take action against building of unofficial trails

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The team that manage the Forestry Commission’s Haldon Forest Park near Exeter is warning cyclists about the dangers of building unofficial trails in the forest.

The practice, which is illegal, has resulted in unsafe trails being built and people risking their own safety to build them.  Large trees in the Freers area of Haldon Forest have been cut using chainsaws by cyclists to build a trail.  This has been reported to the police, who are working with the Forestry Commission to deal with the people concerned. 

The Forestry Commission’s Toby Bowen-Scott says:

“We are very concerned that people are risking their safety by building unofficial trails in the forest.  We have found some trees which have been cut which create a huge safety concern, not only for the people cutting them and riding the trails but also for our other visitors. 

“Forestry is a dangerous industry and our staff go through rigorous training to be able to use chainsaws and adhere to stringent safety rules and regulations.  The thought of untrained people using chainsaws in the forest is terrifying, not to mention illegal. The cutting and felling of trees and even digging bike trails into the soil and through vegetation without permission is criminal damage. Anyone caught doing this will be reported to the police. ”

“Our official cycling trails cater for all abilities but we understand that some people are looking for more challenging rides.  However, people must understand that they cannot take it upon themselves to build trails in this way. We work with several local groups who have permission to maintain existing ‘unofficial’ trails, but the creation of new trails is not permitted.”

“If anyone would like to discuss the matter they are welcome to talk to me or one of the team any time.  We can be found on site in the Rangers office.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.

Media contact:
Kirstie Smith, 01392 834249