Arborcide in Pelham Bay Park trees

The hunt is on for eco-terrorists, deranged tree-haters or whoever committed arborcide on more than a dozen mature trees in Pelham Bay Park.

Fifteen 30- to 40-year-old trees were “girdled” – their bark expertly stripped in a band around them, effectively signing a death warrant on them, said Pelham Bay Park administrator Marianne Anderson.

Girdling a tree disrupts its vascular system, depriving it of water and other nutrients, she explained.

The 40-foot swamp Spanish oak trees, in the South Meadow near the dog run and a small ballfield, were discovered vandalized earlier this month by two Parks employees and a volunteer, said Anderson.

It is illegal to damage any tree, and a police report has been filed, said Anderson.

“I have seen damage here and there, but nothing where the whole bark of the tree was basically ripped off from the chest level down,” said Anderson. “It is really a terrible act.”

She said the Parks Department is asking anyone who goes walking or bird watching in the South Meadow, or walking their dog at the run, who may have any information to come forward.

“We believe that the community is our eyes and ears and they often tell us things that they notice.”

There does not appear to be a way to salvage the trees, she said.

“It just created a gaping hole in the forest,” said Anderson.

The person or persons responsible may or may not have had extensive knowledge of the forestry practice of “girdling,” said Anderson.

“Anyone who knows trees knows that if they strip the bark off a tree they are going to kill it.”

George Zulch, one of the founders of the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance, dedicated to saving as many mature trees as possible during parkway reconstruction, called the attack on the park trees a “diabolical” act of eco-terrorists.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393