WATCH: Mindless vandals slammed after causing 'carnage' at Hebburn wildlife haven
A 20ft bird watching screen and feeding equipment were destroyed and planks of wood smashed to pieces during a shocking wrecking spree at Monkton Community Woodland, in Hebburn.
The trail of destruction was discovered by a wildlife enthusiast during a regular visit to the beauty spot on Saturday morning.
The stunned witness, who took pictures of the heartbreaking scene, swiftly alerted police.
Northumbria Police have confirmed an investigation into the incident is now underway.
The bird watcher, who asked not to be named, said: “It has been a voluntary project and a lot of people have worked really hard and done a really job at the woodland.
“I was there just after 8am and it has been completely obliterated.
“Whoever has done this has gone into a frenzy.
“There are 12ft planks of wood smashed up, a 20ft screen to watch the birds has been demolished.
“It has been smashed to smithereens.
“It is carnage.
“This is a rural haven for South Tyneside an I don’t know why anyone would do this.
“What is in their head?”
The nature lover found a mallet in the woodland which he believes may have been used to carry out the damage.
He says the area is a popular spot for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts keen to enjoy the rural delights of the borough.
He added: “You get a lot of pensioners who love to come down here and take pictures.
“I called the police straightaway but it will be very hard for those responsible to be caught.”
The 10-hectare plot of land is situated on the former Monkton Cokeworks in Hebburn, which was built in 1936 and had a history of contamination for decades.
But a blot of the industrial landscape has been turned into a popular green spot under the ownership of national land management charity, the Land Trust.
Last April, the woodland won a £20,000 cash boost to further spruce up the nature trail.
Access to the site was dramatically improved with the completion of 470 metres of new trails and a seven-space car park.
The year-long project has been undertaken by staff and volunteers from communities’ charity Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle (STAN) in partnership with the Land Trust.
Along with the car park, new gates were also installed at the main pedestrian access point off Mill Lane, as part of the Forestry Commission Woodland Improvement Grant scheme.
The work aims to encourage more visitors, including those from schools, businesses and community groups, and to enhance the woodland’s potential as a habitat for wildlife.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said; “Inquiries are ongoing.”