TREASURE hunters are causing a blight on land managed by a trust in the county.

The Malvern Hills Trust is urging people to report any sightings of “unlawful” metal-detecting on its hills and commons, after damage has been caused by the activity.

Beck Baker, community and conservation officer for the Malvern Hills Trust, said “Our purpose is to care for this landscape, its archaeology, heritage and wildlife.

“Unlawful metal detecting on land under the trust’s jurisdiction risks irreparably damaging the very things that make this landscape so special.”

“It is an offence under our by-laws to remove or displace turf or soil or to use a metal detector on land under the jurisdiction of the trust. If prosecuted, offenders could be fined.”

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An incident has been reported to the trust and police after three men were seen with metal detectors and digging near in North Quarry.

Beck added: “In addition, scheduled monuments such as British Camp and the Shire Ditch are nationally protected and so are the areas designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

“Those caught causing damage to land could face prosecution which could result in imprisonment.”

In recent weeks, further damage has been caused by suspected metal detecting on the Old Hills, Callow End and on the Trust’s land near Castlemorton Common.

Metal detecting can cause distinctive patterns of damage when looking for finds. The top layer of turf is removed and then replaced. Despite filling the hole and replacing the turf, when the roots of the vegetation have been severed the grass does not always recover, leaving obvious patches of dead vegetation within the grassland.

The Malvern Hills Trust, who own and care for the hills and commons, are asking people to continue to report these incidents to try and stop further damage being caused.

Anyone seeing any digging or metal-detecting taking place is asked to call 01684 892002

The Malvern Hills Trust is the new working name of the Malvern Hills Conservators, a body that was first established by Act of Parliament in 1884 to protect and manage the Malvern Hills and the adjacent commons.