A meeting is being held tomorrow (Wednesday) following claims a much-loved woodland has been 'utterly devastated' and now resembles 'something akin to a war zone'.

Residents are invited to attend the meeting in Pickering wood after work was carried out by the Duchy of Lancaster which owns the land.

Concerns have been raised by local residents that vast swathes of the woodland levelled with a number of mature trees felled.

Pickering resident Paul Rowlston said the woodland was one of his favourite places to walk.

"I have shared innumerable photographs of it with friends around the world and often commented that it would make an idea location for filming, since it seemed so perfectly untouched by time. It was very easy to imagine Robin Hood walking with his men at the foot of the cliffs, in shaded, untouched beauty.

"Imagine my horror when I return to find a scene of utter devastation, a desolate hell scape of bulldozed road-ways and cut down trees. What had been a shaded and quite idyllic small woods, filled with well maintained and perfectly situated paths, is now something akin to a war zone. Massive, old-growth trees cut down, vast swathes of the woodland levelled, an absolute empty desolation.

"I can't even begin to imagine what the reason or justification for this destruction is, but whatever the logic they have 'made a desert and called it peace'".

"Even worse, having stripped the woods, the detritus no remains as litter, the pathways ripped up, the landscape left bare and what is supposed to be replanting is patently fake and false, with at least half being empty - not vandalised, not pulled up, clearly always empty."

Fellow resident Pauline Hukin said there had been many complaints by people who loved the woodland

"There has been much destruction in the once beautiful wood on behalf of the Duchy. Heavy industrial machinery has nearly razed it to the ground and the once beautiful wood is now a shambles. It needs to be seen to be believed."

A spokesperson from the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “As a responsible landlord, the Duchy of Lancaster is committed to protecting the countryside so that it may be enjoyed by future generations. We have a woodland management strategy in place across all our estates which has been developed by our in-house team and specialist external forestry consultants.

“The works undertaken at Pickering Woods are primarily focussed on removing diseased trees suffering from Ash Dieback. This is essential to ensure public safety. It will also help to improve the biodiversity and long-term sustainability of the woodland. All works are being carried out in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard and under the terms of a Forestry Commission felling licence and have the full support of the local council.”

The meeting will take place at 2pm at the central vehicle access to the woods. Representatives of Pickering Town Council are expected to attend along with the Duchy of Lancaster's forestry consultants.