Tears of frustration and grief met the felling of several century-old trees in Lumsden on Monday.
But protesters who chained themselves to one of the 14 Lawson cypresses on the grounds of the former Lumsden Presbyterian Church, in a last-ditch effort to prevent the ‘‘massacre’’, say they are not giving up the wider fight just yet.
The fight to save the 130-year-old trees — planted about the time the church was built in 1891 — began last year, after the church announced it was selling the building for removal from the site, and creating a new worship centre.
Concerned locals formed the ‘‘Lumsden Tree Lovers’’ group to find ways to prevent their felling, after it became apparent the church’s plans would require removal of most of the trees.
On Monday, as contractors began removing the ‘‘landmark’’ trees, group spokeswoman Kim Spencer-McDonald, of Dipton, said she and others were ‘‘heartbroken’’ to have lost the battle to save them.
‘‘It’s just horrendous to see them being chopped down and chipped.
‘‘Landmark trees like this take decades to grow, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. It’s enough to make you weep.’’
She said despite being moved on by police, she believed the protest had been worth it, and the group would maintain a presence on the site while felling of10 of the trees continued this week.
‘‘There were six of us chained to the tree when police turned up. They informed us, very amicably, that we were trespassing, and that if we chose to stay we would be arrested.
‘‘Mindful of the repercussions, we decided to take our protest to the edge of the church grounds, where we will remain with placards this week, just to continue bringing awareness of the situation to passers-by.
‘‘We may have lost the battle, but we’re not giving up on getting our councils to reinstate their heritage tree registers, which they abandoned over a decade ago. We want to do whatever we can to prevent something like this from happening again.’’
Church representatives did not respond to questions by the time of publication.
However, last August a spokesman said the decision to fell the trees had not been easy.
‘‘We understand that some in the community will be sad to see the trees go.
‘‘We can assure you that this decision has not been easy and that other options have been investigated and found unviable.’’