The charity behind the regeneration of a Fife park has defended “brutal” cutbacks to shrubs and trees following criticism from members of the public.
A number of local people had expressed objection, claiming Fife Employment Access Trust’s (FEAT) actions at Silverburn Park in Leven, amounted to desecration of the 18th century gardens.
They complained that rhododendrons had been hacked away and mature trees felled as part of the ongoing work at the park.
FEAT has responded, however, saying the cutbacks were aimed at eradicating invasive species and removing unsafe trees and was based on expert advice.
They said the move would allow trees and shrubs that were part of the park’s original designed landscape to flourish.
A spokesman for the organisation, which helps people with mental health difficulties back into work, said it had signed a woodland management plan when it took over the upkeep of Silverburn on behalf of Fife Council.
“This was produced by an experienced landscape consultant and laid down a series of policies that were to be followed in order to restore the woodlands back to their original state,” he said.
“This was necessary because the key feature of a designed landscape is that it needs to be regularly maintained and clearly that had not been done for a number of years.”
He said the result had been invasive species such as salmonberry and ponticum rhododendron had overwhelmed original plants and shrubs.
Stating that the management plan had been approved by the National Trust for Scotland, the spokesman added: “Whilst the work to eradicate the invasive species and remove unsafe and self-seeded trees may appear brutal, it is based on expert advice and will allow the trees and shrubs that were part of the original designed landscape to flourish.
“The benefits may not be immediately evident but this is a long-term project that we have just embarked on.
“The end result will be a restored landscape with lots of pleasant trees and shrubs that will encourage wildlife diversity and will be easier to maintain.”
Silverburn Park was gifted to Leven Town Council by the Russell family in 1973 on condition a management plan for the woodlands was agreed with the National Trust.
The plan states Silverburn must forever remain a quiet area used for nature trails, quiet parkland and organised camping.