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Men charged with 'deliberate vandalism' in 2023 chopping of iconic 150-year-old tree: 'Shame on them'

The Sycamore Gap tree was perhaps most famous for an appearance in the 1991 Kevin Costner film "Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves."

The Sycamore Gap tree was perhaps most famous for an appearance in the 1991 Kevin Costner film "Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves."

Photo Credit: iStock

Two men in England have been charged with two counts each of criminal damage after allegedly chopping down a historic 150-year-old tree in September and damaging a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the process, the Associated Press reported.

The Sycamore Gap tree was perhaps most famous for an appearance in the 1991 Kevin Costner film "Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves." Situated next to Hadrian's Wall, built in 122 A.D. by Roman Emperor Hadrian, it was also a popular subject for landscape photographers. 

In felling the tree, the two culprits, Daniel Graham, 38, and Adam Carruthers, 31, also damaged the wall. 

The motive, or why Graham and Carruthers went into all the trouble of cutting down a 150-year-old tree, still seems missing from the story. The police referred to the crime as "deliberate vandalism." 

Graham and Carruthers, who appeared at their court hearing wearing full face coverings, did not appear eager to explain themselves. Graham pleaded not guilty, and Carruthers did not enter a plea.

"Shame on them," wrote a commenter in a Reddit thread about the story.

In most other cases of trees illegally being cut down, the motives are more clear. In some cases, people cut down trees around their property to improve views or make room for a massive driveway.

Sometimes tree poachers cut down trees to sell the lumber for money. One such case in Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri was recently solved by the Forest Service using tree DNA.

Neither of these seems to have been the motive in the case of the Sycamore Gap tree. If you would like to read some theories about what was going on there, there are several floating around the Reddit thread.

"Awful lot of effort to go to just to destroy something," one person wrote

In any case, trees are very important for our planet, and we should all strive to avoid cutting them down whenever possible — even when the consequences for doing so don't land us in legal trouble. Trees filter carbon dioxide and create oxygen. They are vital to cooling our planet and removing air pollution, and, like all life on Earth, are under constant threat from human activities. Protecting them should be a top priority for all societies.

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