Mindless vandalism at Kinneil orchard

Claire Mennim, team leader for Parks and Sustainability at Falkirk Community Trust, and Ian Shearer, chairman of the Friends of Kinneil, get to work trying to save the saplings
Claire Mennim, team leader for Parks and Sustainability at Falkirk Community Trust, and Ian Shearer, chairman of the Friends of Kinneil, get to work trying to save the saplings

Vandals destroyed “nearly half” the young trees in the community orchard at the Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness, last week.

Nine young saplings were snapped off, just as they were beginning to mature and this incident follows the defacement of story boards explaining the area’s links to the Antonine Wall earlier this month.

The planting of the orchard in 2016 involved children from both Deanburn and Kinneil Primary Schools, other local volunteers including the Friends, and those within partner organisations including Falkirk Parks, Central Scotland Green Network Trust, Forth Valley Orchards, Inner Forth Landscape, Historic Environment Scotland and others.

With advice from expert Andrew Lear, the trees were specially selected from historic fruit varieties to reflect the great orchards which existed at Kinneil around the 17th century, when the estate was famed for its magnificent gardens and parkland.

The damaged trees include: Hawthornden Apple, Opal Plum, Damson Sweet Prune, Victoria Plum, Megginch Favourite Apple, Rivers Early Plum, Winter Pearmain Apple, Mirabelle Cherry Plum, and Tower of Glamis Apple.

Friends of Kinneil members met with Falkirk Parks on Monday to assess the vandalism.

The wreckage and broken branches from the incident were cleared away and initial steps towards damage limitation taken.

A spokesperson for Friends of Kinneil said: “In the short term it was decided to cut the snapped stems back to fresh shoots to see whether there is any prospect of the trees recovering during what is left of the summer growing period.

“If not, those with the worst damage or disease will be replanted in the winter bare-root season. The aim would be to organise an event in association with Kinneil and Deanburn Primary Schools to mark its continuation and regeneration.

“Many thanks to everyone in the community for their exceptional response and support after this damage was reported.”

The destruction of the nine saplings sparked a storm of comment on social media.

Maria Ford said: “I am so angry as I was the one to seek funding for the orchard.

“We hoped to make juice etc, and even if people picked the fruits and ate them this was fine - but to snap them.

“There are no words to express this vandalism”.