The felling of a 400-year-old oak tree in Merton has been slammed as “ecocide” by upset neighbours.

Tree surgeons started to cut down the beloved tree with chainsaws on Tuesday.

Now just a stump remains of the tree in Central Road, Morden which backs onto the Hatfield Mead Estate. Residents said they pleaded with workers to stop as there was concerns the tree was healthy and on public land.

The felling of the tree was approved by Merton Council but residents wanted a second opinion on the view that the tree was decaying.

Wimbledon Times: The huge oak tree before it was felled. Credit: Rebecca MasikerThe huge oak tree before it was felled. Credit: Rebecca Masiker

They claim it is healthy and local Rebecca Masiker and her husband Nick Riggio applied for the tree to be protected in 2020.

Rebecca, 49, said: “This is a great example of bureaucracy ending up in ecocide.

"The council wants our support for climate emergency action plans but here is a case where a perfectly healthy 400 years old tree which we were so lucky to have in our neighbourhood which has now come down.

“My husband and I got a tree protection order in 2020 we were under the impression that if that was revoked we would need to be notified about it.

"It is horrifying.

"We don’t know why the application to fell the tree was put through with so little consideration to us, it feels like our voices weren’t heard. 

“It is now pretty much all the way down to the trunk. We were imploring the service that was cutting the tree to stop.”

Wimbledon Times: What was left of the 400 year old oak tree. Credit: Pippa MaslinWhat was left of the 400 year old oak tree. Credit: Pippa Maslin

She added that in the afternoon tree officers from the council came out but were unable to put a stop to the felling.

In a video seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, tree officers shout up to the tree surgeons that there is a dispute over whose land the tree stands on.

But the surgeons shout down that unless there was a written revokation of the approval they would not stop chopping down the tree.

Neighbour Pippa Maslin said: “In the time of climate breakdown, to cut something which is as mature as this which is absorbing so many emissions is absolutely nonsensical.”

Ms Maslin said there was a lack of communication with the council from the council which led to the tree’s demise.

She added: “It has been awful. They made swift progress it was just branch after branch it is came down really quickly.”

Nick Riggio said the land was still listed as public land despite a homeowner sucessfully applying to fell the tree.

The homeowners gardeners and Merton Council were contacted for comment.