A Wiltshire community has been left shocked after 250 newly planted trees were stolen.

The line of trees, including hawthorn and hazel, had been planted over the last few months by Plant for Our Lives volunteers.

People from Urchfont, Chirton and Conock had given up hours of their own time to form the hedgerow that stretches from Conock up onto the Plain.

Volunteers realised yesterday (February 18) that the newly planted trees, plus guards and canes, had been ripped out and stolen.

The trees had been donated by the Woodland Trust.

Caroline Smith, who organised the planting, said: "They've been taken from the top end, right up near the top of Redhorn Hill.

"We thought we'd done really well to complete the planting in such good time so this is really disappointing.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Caroline Smith and other volunteers last NovemberCaroline Smith and other volunteers last November

"I'm just hoping they don't come back for more. Apparently similiar things have happened across the country."

Last June, 60 young trees were ripped out and stolen from the grounds of Royal Wootton Bassett Rugby Club.

"I don’t understand why anyone would do this," said volunteer Brian Smith at the time.

And in December, thieves in Norfolk uprooted hundreds of the freshly-planted young trees and bushes worth £5,000.   

In Wiltshire, it has been suggested that the trees were stolen around February 6, when a white-pick up was spotted in the area.

Two police cars were seen in the area the same day.

If you have any information, please call police on 101 with crime reference number 53210016334.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: "We are still investigating this incident and are appealing for witnesses to any suspicious behaviour in the area sometime between February 1 and yesterday (February 18)

"If anyone can help with our enquiries they are asked to contact us on 101 quoting the crime reference number 53210016334."

Lise Kinnaird, Liberal Democrat candidate for Urchfont and Bishops Cannings in the upcoming elections, was part of the volunteer group that planted the trees. 

She said: "We are all absolutely gutted, such a lot of passion, dedication and hard labour was put into this project by volunteers from so many local villages in an effort to tackle the climate and ecological crisis. 

"Despite the grip of a winter lockdown Plant For Our Lives and our bands of village volunteers have been out across the Pewsey Vale working hard, thinking globally and acting locally!"

Since the formation of Plant for Our Lives in 2014, volunteers have planted 10km of hedgerows and over 30,000 trees across the Vale of Pewsey.

In some areas 50% of hedgerows have been removed since the Second World War due to changes in farming methods and government policy, which has had a devastating impact on biodiversity.

The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and planting hedges and trees is a practical way for local communities to work together in the face of the climate and ecological emergency to restore habitat in the local area.

To find out more go to https://www.facebook.com/plantforourlives