RARE wildlife is being put at risk by the felling in a Hampshire woodland warn residents and conservationists.

Hundreds of trees in Stokes Park Wood in Bishopstoke have been chopped down destroying animal habitats in the process.

Maureen Edwards, who has lived in the village for more said the felling of the trees by the Forestry Commission during nesting season is a threat to local rare bird species.

She said: “The trees in the woodland were identified two years ago the timing of the felling is causing devastation to local wildlife, particularly nesting birds.

“We are all told not to chop down trees or hedges in the nesting season and yet here the managers of our local ancient woodland are doing precisely that.”

Other members of the public claim they have found fledglings abandoned in their toppled nests, some already dead.

A Fair Oak resident, who didn’t want to be named, added: “Rare species including lesser spotted woodpeckers and even blue tits are becoming rarer as their habitats are being stripped away.

“The species used to be very widespread, but now they are quite rare now as the area shrinks in size due to Eastleigh Borough Council progressing with their local plan.”

In response to the concerns, a spokesperson from the Forestry Commission added: “Before the work in Stoke Park Wood started, we assessed what needed to be done and what the impact may be on the wildlife and habitat.

“We take even more care to look for wildlife that has special protection including badgers, bats and rare or threatened birds. We will either suspend or alter operations to make sure this wildlife is protected.”

A study by the RSPB found the population of the lesser spotted woodpecker has declined by 76 per cent between 1970 and 2008.

Martin Harper, RSPB director of conservation said: “At a time when Britain was carpeted with forest, the lesser spotted woodpecker could have been among our most widespread birds.

“Our scientists are trying desperately to establish why this little sprite is vanishing from so many sites. Perhaps its best hope for survival lies in the larger tracts of ancient woodland. Knowing the distribution of the species will give the best chance of hanging on to this endearing bird.”