A man has been left “devastated” after a sapling he planted at the site of the felled Sycamore Gap tree was removed.
UK resident Kieran Chapman, 27, planted the sapling on Friday, metres away from the stump of the world-famous tree after it was illegally chopped down last week.
But by Sunday morning it had been dug up by the National Trust.
The conservation charity said they had to remove the sapling because the site is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“It’s just devastating, isn’t it? It genuinely brought people a lot of joy and that’s been taken away,” Mr Chapman told the Newcastle Chronicle.
“I honestly thought if it got a good response they might end up keeping it.”
Mr Chapman, from Newcastle, said he planted the sapling because he wanted to “restore people’s faith in humanity, bring a smile back to people’s faces and just give them a bit of hope”.
Like others, he said he was left “devastated” by the felling of the tree on September 27.
“I planned to go and take the dog for a walk next weekend there.”
A National Trust spokesperson told the publication that while is understands “the strength of feeling following the events at Sycamore Gap” the site “is a scheduled ancient monument and a globally important archaeological setting, with UNESCO world heritage designation”.
“Altering or adding to it can damage the archaeology, and is unlawful without prior consent from government.”
In a post on Facebook, Mr Chapman said he was “absolutely gutted” by the decision, but was told by the National Trust that the tree will be replanted on another piece of land at the Housesteads Visitor Centre on Hadrian’s Wall.
“Too many politics around all this for my liking, the top and bottom of it, it’s a tree, planted in soil. I understand the land is protected, but to protect a tree from being planted in the earth, where they’re designed to be, no matter where it’s location, is crazy,” he wrote.
The toppling of the 70ft timber – which appeared in Kevin Costner’s 1991 hit Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – has sparked fury across Britain.
Two people have been arrested over the incident, a 16-year-old boy and 69-year-old former lumberjack, Walter Renwick.
Both have been released on bail, with Renwick insisting he’s “f***ing innocent”.
“You’ve got the wrong feller,” he told The Sun.
The pensioner went on: “I’m a former lumberjack and I’ve just been kicked off my property so I can see why people have pointed the finger.
“My brother came down to make sure I hadn’t been arrested as he had heard a rumour that I had cut it down. I didn’t do it.”
Renwick is understood to have been evicted by the property’s owners on Thursday and is now living in a nearby camper van.
DNA could unlock mystery
Speaking of the felling, Renwick said: “Trees have their own DNA and you can use the dust to track down which tree was felled, so it’ll be easy to find who did it.
“It was the perfect night to do it.
“There was a full moon so it would have been well lit and the wind would have meant there was barely any sound.”
Through wood fibre testing – often used to combat illegal logging – scientists can match logs, boards, and sawdust to their tree of origin.
The microscopic examination – which is not technically a DNA test – is a complex procedure and can involve chemical testing to compare samples, experts at American standards-testing body ANSI say.
The test may be able to link a chainsaw containing sawdust residue to the Sycamore Gap tree, and ultimately identify a culprit.
No-one has been charged with the felling, though theories of its chopping down range from a TikTok stunt to a National Trust worker.
Police are keeping an open mind as to the motive of the felling.
– With The Sun