Northern Ireland news

Suspected poisoning of 150 year old tree to be investigated

Pictures shared on social media show several holes bored into the trunk

THE suspected poisoning of a 150 year old tree is to be investigated by council park staff.

It was thought that a giant Lebanese Cedar was dying of unknown causes - but a closer inspection revealed it had been drilled and apparently poisoned.

Pictures shared on social media show several holes bored into the trunk of the tree, which experts say has a value of £200,000.

The non-native cedar, which has bat boxes attached, stands in Cherryvale Park on Ravenhill Road.

It overlooks homes on Knock Eden Park in the Rosetta area of south Belfast.

The recently-refurbished park's playing fields and trail paths are lined by hundreds of different species of tree including cherry, cypress, oak, birch, poplar and maple.

Green Party councillor Brian Smyth said he had raised the incident with Belfast City Council's tree officer.

"This tree is over 150 years old and has been there longer than the houses in the area, longer than all of us. And it should be there longer than all of us," he said.

"People are genuinely upset about this. It appears to have been drilled and a substance poured into the holes. It looks to be wilful environmental vandalism."

It is understood that council staff will look more closely at the damage in the coming days.

The PSNI guided that tree poisoning itself was not a criminal offence, but said if the owner made a complaint of criminal damage, it would be investigated as such.

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Northern Ireland news