VOLUNTEERS have called for an end to the “mindless and selfish vandalism which is spoiling Helensburgh’s green public spaces” after further incidents were reported at a local nature reserve.

Duchess Wood was targeted at the weekend as vandals destroyed fences, gates, map boards and young trees, causing an estimated £1,000 worth of damage.

The reports follow on from recent episodes of indecent behaviour within Hermitage Park, as yobs continue to disrupt the refurbishment project by scribbling graffiti, stealing memorial trees, breaking bins and setting fire to new picnic benches.

READ MORE: Vandals strike – again – at Hermitage Park as bin smashed and fencing ripped out

Matt Offord, chair of the Friends of Duchess Wood (FODW), hopes a united front from volunteers and residents who enjoy the area can help put a stop to the disorder.

He said: “This is probably the worst example I have seen.

“The groups of individuals responsible for this sort of behaviour appear to have very little respect for the wood, the wildlife or consideration for the people of Helensburgh who use the wood for recreation.

“Friends of Duchess Wood does not have a budget or a mandate to police or clean up after incidents such as these. In the past I have both scrubbed the walls at the Strathclyde Court garages and painted them with anti-graffiti paint, while other members of the public and Argyll and Bute Council workers have also volunteered, as happened this weekend.

“All of this bears heavily on FODW funding and time; both of which would be better spent enhancing the bio-diversity of the area.

“A community effort would do a lot to deter this kind of destruction.”

READ MORE: Burgh resident's anger as vandals 'rip tree from roots'

In addition to the vandalism, Mr Offord said he was disappointed to discover smashed glass bottles which pose a particular hazard to wildlife, dogs and children visiting the woodland.

Police have been informed of the incidents and will continue to make visits to the area.

Mr Offord added: “FODW is extremely saddened by this incident which follows a long history of similar destruction and vandalism in the wood.

“We note the similarities with recent incidents in Hermitage Park, but we have no idea if the same persons are involved or if there is a broader destructive element at work across Helensburgh.

“In either case, these individuals are mindlessly and selfishly spoiling Helensburgh’s green public spaces.

“We urge the public to join us in being vigilant and dialling 101 if they see anything suspicious.”

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Lorna Douglas, chair of the council’s Duchess Wood Local Nature Reserve Committee, said: “Duchess Wood is a much loved and valued asset for the town and enjoyed by huge numbers of people.

“The wanton damage and destruction which has taken place is truly depressing but with everyone’s help we will stamp it out.”