The May damage to the woodland along the path to Darwen Tower between Belgrave Road and Manor Road angered nearby residents.

They contacted councillors who approached town hall officials.

Because Blackburn with Darwen Council had not previously imposed tree preservation orders, officials had no powers of sanction.

They contacted the Forestry Commission which measured the scale of the damage and decided the landowner had breached national guidelines requiring a licence to fell more than five cubic metres of timber.

Now it has served a restocking notice on the landowner, whom they have declined to name.

It requires the planting of 957 trees on the site to redress the damage done by the felling of the 70 mature trees. Failure to do so could lead to prosecution of the landowner and a potential fine.

Local Darwen West councillor Stephanie Brookfield said: “This is a brilliant outcome.”

The commission notice specifies the new trees should be 30 per cent downy birch, 20 per cent alder, 20 per cent willow and 20 per cent oak with 10 per cent of the area left as open ground to allow a public right of way.

It says: “For a period of 10 years from planting the trees must be properly protected against damage, adequately weeded and maintained. Any trees which fail, die or are otherwise lost during the 10 year period must be replaced by June 30 the following year.”

Saplings are expected to be planted next spring.

Darwen East’s Cllr Jane Oates, who as the borough’s then assistant executive member for environment took up the issue with council officials, said: “Residents were heartbroken and the scenery was devastated. I am delighted that the Forestry Commission has acted and issued this notice.”

Cllr Brookfield said: “I am very pleased for the residents in the surrounding area and indeed anyone who has had pleasure over the years enjoying this lovely wooded area.

“It sends a strong message to the public that they cannot fell large groups of trees without a licence from the Forestry Commission.”

Darwen Town Council Liberal Democrat Paul Browne said: “I am delighted the Forestry Commission has acted.

“I am over the moon. Felling these trees was appalling.”

It is believed the trees were cut down in May by a contractor on the landowner’s behalf.

A Forestry Commission spokeswoman said: “Individuals are required to apply for a felling licence from the Forestry Commission before felling trees.

“Felling without a licence may result in prosecution and/or the serving of a restocking notice and non-compliance may result in a second prosecution.”