A council cock-up saw a wildflower meadow in a Brighton nature reserve mown down.
The meadow in the Withdean Stadium was full of long grass and flowers, and home to grasshoppers rare butterflies.
But on Tuesday last week, walkers arrived at the beauty spot and were horrified to find all that gone.
One walker, Sylvia Davidson, said: “I saw the tracks of the mower coming into the meadow, and then I saw the trail of destruction.
“I had this sinking feeling that I knew what had happened to the meadow.
“Before I got there, I was still hoping they might have just mowed a little bit, but when I got there everything had been mowed right up to the edges of the trees.
“It was complete destruction of the grass and flowers, not even just to move a path through it. It looked awful because it was brown and dead.”
She added: “More people have been coming there after discovering it because of lockdown and they had never set foot inside this local nature reserve. You could just sit there and observe the beauty of the place.”
She said the habitat was especially essential for pollinators such as bees which we depend on for our crops and ecosystem, and the meadow had been cut at exactly the wrong time for bees and other bugs to benefit from it.
Green councillor Jamie Lloyd, who represents Withdean, said: “I was extremely upset to hear about the completely unnecessary mowing of the beautiful meadow in Withdean Woods.
“I was first contacted by a local resident who has spent a lot of time and effort planting wild seeds in the meadow and monitoring local pollinators and butterflies.
“He was understandably devastated and furious that the council had taken this measure when the area is not supposed to be cut in the spring/summer.
“As local councillors, we have sought assurance from the Labour-led council that the meadow is never cut in the spring and summer months again.”