Volunteers working to transform a Fife park have refused to be deterred by thieves who have dug up 27 newly-planted trees in the last week.
Disappointed workers at Silverburn Park in Leven, say they are determined to continue their efforts on behalf of the community, despite the blow, and are even offering left-over saplings to anyone who wants them.
The park’s operations manager Martin McDonald said: “When you’re part of a community, it’s about what you give, not what you take.”
Thirteen cherry trees and four oak trees were among the items stolen from the 27-acre park, along with a magnolia, two cornus shrubs, three multi-stemmed acer griseums and four ornamental acer trees.
All had been planted by local people working with mental health charity Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) and young volunteers from the Our Bright Futures project, following months of work to clear the area of dying and invasive species.
Mr McDonald said everyone involved in the effort had felt hurt by the theft.
“We are investing in the future for the community and making it a beautiful space again,” he said. “That’s why it stings a bit.
“The general public should get a lot out of it when they see it blooming and that makes it particularly upsetting.
“This is a bunch of kids who have put their own hard work into trying to do something good for the community.”
Mr McDonald said there was never any excuse for stealing but the fact this incident was from two charities and local people had made it particularly galling.
“There are a lot of people impacted by this but we want to make sure people get something positive as well,” he said.
You can't keep a good squirrel down. After a glass of acorn wine and a good sleep, the Sammy we know and love is back in…
“We had donations of rowans, oaks and maples and had a few extra.
“We’ve potted them up and are gifting them to our visitors in order that people can understand what kind of people we are down here.
“We could hunker down and say we’re wasting our time but that’s not who we are.”
The incident is the latest in a number of thefts of plants, trees and shrubs.
Last month, Levenmouth environmental charity Clear reported at least a dozen newly-planted fruit trees had been stolen from various spots in the area and last week a three-foot high forest flame shrub was removed from a garden in Hill of Beath.
Police confirmed they were investigating the Silverburn Park incident and urged anyone with information to contact them on 101.