Published: 06:00, 05 August 2020
A group of conservationists who stumped up £50,000 to buy an orchard are angry at youths who have caused hundreds of pounds of damage.
During lockdown, youngsters have been gathering on land next to Broomhill Park, Strood.
They have lit fires and left rubbish strewn across the area.
The Friends of Broomhill bought the nine-acre site in Brompton Lane to preserve it and stop it being used for housing development.
The previous owners agreed to sell it on condition the volunteers came up with the money in a year.
They succeeded and have already created accessible pathways and have educational activities including "pop-up schools" and recreational sports projects for the public in the pipeline.
But over the last few months they have been frustrated by a spate of antisocial behaviour at The Old Orchard and are appealing for people to report incidents to the council and police.
Friends' spokesman David Park said: "It is sad to see woodland we have tried so hard to preserve destroyed by fire.
"It is also dangerous. I understand young people don't have festivals and other things to go to and have got bored.
"But it is disrespectful to our volunteers and the community who enjoy it."
Mr Park said police have been called on several occasions and the fire brigade had attended three times in a fortnight to stop fires spreading.
The Friends bought the apple, damson and pear orchard in May 2018 with Medway Council helping with funding.
"I understand young people don't have festivals and other things to go to and have got bored..."
The neighbouring Broomhill Park has won numerous environmental awards and has achieved green flag status for many years running.
The orchard has just been nominatedfor a prize ina competition organised by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Any bad behaviour should be reported to the police on 101 and the council on 01634 333333.