Bikers damaging woods

Colin Rigby from The Woodland Trust at Kirkless Woods, Aspull
Colin Rigby from The Woodland Trust at Kirkless Woods, Aspull

IRRESPONSIBLE motorcyclists have been criticised for damaging a community woodland.

The Woodland Trust has hit out at off-road bikers who have left a trail of wreckage, including damage to the forest floor, churned-up pathways and broken young plants, at Kirkless Wood.

The 18-acre site near Aspull has become increasingly popular as a haunt for motorcycling, with some people walking their dogs or going for a stroll in the popular green space complaining of feeling intimidated by the riders with their powerful, all-terrain machines.

The Trust is demanding action to protect the woodland, saying many of the trees were originally planted by Wigan residents around 15 years ago as part of a grass-roots scheme to create woodlands in local areas across the country.

Colin Rigby, Woodland Trust site manager, said: “These motorcyclists are causing damage to plants and young trees on the forest floor, and are endangering the lives of pedestrians who use the wood too.

“We are working with local police to tackle the issue but would appreciate any information that the public could provide too.”

The Trust is also concerned about the effect the bike riding could have on the woodland’s wildlife, including populations of nesting birds and wild flowers.

The woodland was planted in 1997 on the site of the former Wigan Iron and Steel Company works, and turned into a green space through the Woodlands on Your Doorstep project which saw communities across the country come together to help improve their local environment.

The site now consists of broad-leaved woodland with other habitats including a small pond, areas of open ground and meadows.

The Woodland Trust, founded in 1972, which works to plant native trees and woods, protect Britain’s shrinking ancient forests and restore green landscapes which have become damaged.

The charity now looks after more than 1,000 sites across the country, with more than 20,000 hectares of woodland for visitors to walk in free.

Anyone with information about the motorcyclists using Kirkless Wood should contact Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on 0161 856 7124, or call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.