VANDALS have badly damaged a patch of land in the Paddy Ranges State Park that Maryborough Girl Guides have spent four years regenerating.
Maryborough Girl Guides leader Belinda Pritchard said the damage to planted trees by vandals doing 'donuts' in a car had devastated the group.
“Maryborough Girl Guides have taken on regenerating a patch of land in the park, and have passionately planted more than 1000 trees and shrubs during several planting days over the last four years,” Ms Pritchard said.
“It’s devastating to see the girls’ efforts to improve the environment destroyed in a senseless act of vandalism.
''Some of the trees that were damaged had just started to establish themselves and the girls will need to replant some trees to fix up the mess left behind.”
Ms Pritchard said the environmental project had been a great learning experience for the girls.
''Many of the girls have been there from when we started and have seen it progress and improve,'' she said.
Ms Pritchard said the damage was particularly disappointing because the Guides had committed a lot of time to the project as a volunteer organisation.
''A lot of the trees were paid for by grants - Guides Australia and Parks Victoria grants. We've had community support in the purchase of the trees so it's not only us, it's quite sad to see that community support wasted,'' she said.
Ms Pritchard said the Guides would continued their work at the site.
''We've committed to continuing to contribute to revegetation and we're planning in the near future to put up nest boxes at the site to encourage local wildlife to build homes,'' she said.
Parks Victoria ranger Rob Brouwers said more than 20 trees had been damaged or ripped out of the ground.
“Conditions in park are still a little wet and boggy but that’s no excuse for doing the wrong thing,'' he said.
''Vehicles should only be used on formed open roads to minimise risk and prevent damage to the environment.
“Not only does off-road driving contribute to erosion, vegetation damage and the spread of weeds and pests, it is also illegal. Parks Victoria is investigating this matter further.”
Mr Brouwers said Parks Victoria could issue on-the-spot fines from $144 for driving or riding off-road.
He said offenders could also be taken to court where heavier penalties apply or could be forced to pay for damage to the park.