Illegal trails are being built through Brocton Coppice on Cannock Chase for use by mountain bikes, off-road motorbikes and quad bikes, damaging the roots of the vulnerable oaks in the process.
Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for communities and culture, said the incident was staggering, with ancients trees being left under threat due to the damage caused.
Watch an interview with Ranger Karen Andrew here:
She said: "Many of these oaks are more than two or three centuries old, while some have been here for more than 600 years and once they’re gone, they’re lost forever.
"The problem is that the roots are very shallow and quite close to the surface, so both digging up the soil, or compacting it will cause damage.
"We will have to repair this area by hand to prevent further trouble, but they have really damaged the root system of one of the oaks in particular, which may not survive."
Not only are the ancient oaks important in their own right, but they also provide a home to rare bats, birds, beetles and fungi.
Although vulnerable to root damage, the trees can also be weakened by sudden changes to their environment which renders them more vulnerable to disease and rapid deterioration.
It is not known who is causing the damage. Mountain bike tracks are predominant in the area, although the presence of off-road motorbikes and quad bikes has been identified.
The incident has been reported to Staffordshire Police and the area will be patrolled more intensely by the Ranger service.
Anyone in the Brocton Coppice area, whether on foot, bike, or horseback is asked to keep to the tracks to avoid compacting the soil and help care for these ancient trees.