‘Heartbreak’ over vandalism to forest school and allotments in Dane Valley

Damage at the forest school

Kent Police officers are making enquiries following vandalism at Bright Start Community Forest School and allotments at Dane Valley.

CCTV caught five youngsters carrying out the damage on Tuesday. The boys can be seen throwing tools around after breaking into allotment sheds.

At the forest school bamboo, tarpaulin and cables were damaged.

The forest school is based on one acre of former landfill area in Dane Valley. The entire 13 acre site has been turned into a young woodland with some 6000 trees planted by Dane Valley Woods group volunteers over the last two decades.

The forest school has recently undergone refurbishment under the lead of project manager Michael Sturman, with the installation of new shelters and a compost loo and the site being cleared  for allotment space.

Bright Start Nurseries, run by dad-of-four Marc Rattigan, took over the site from the Thanet Community Forest School last September and is planning to use the area to teach children about sustainability, ecology, conservation and the environment while opening up the school site to all ages in the community.

The rest of the woodland site is open for public access with volunteers mowing hundreds of metres of pathways to allow people easy access around the site.

The woods group has also installed benches, meadows and sculptures across the woodland area,

Marc said: “It’s heartbreaking for us when we are trying to build up a community project that has been hindered with finances due to covid and we are then having to spend funds to replaced damaged items. I also feel for the allotment holders that use the place as a haven during this pandemic just to have had their sites trashed.”

A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Kent Police received a report of criminal damage to a forest school site in Dane Valley Woods, which is believed to have occurred sometime between 6pm on 22 February and 8am on 24 February. Tarpaulin, cables and some bamboo were reportedly broken along with a bucket. Enquiries remain ongoing.”