The Forestry Commission and police are investigating the felling of a “wonderful” bluebell wood in a south Devon valley.
A tree preservation order has been placed on the woods near Dartmouth by South Hams District Council (SHDC) to prevent further felling.
About two hectares (five acres) of woodland were flattened between 22 and 26 April, according to local residents.
Landowner Tony Rowdon declined to comment.
The woodland is “part of the landscape that’s held dear by the community and has been for 40 years”, said Sune Nightingale, who lives nearby.
“This is not acceptable, nor to be tolerated,” he said.
No-one is sure why the woodland was felled, but local people believe it may have been for logging.
Councillor Keith Baldry, executive member for environment at SHDC, said “several laws could have been breached”.
He said: “Allegations of illegal felling will now be investigated by the Forestry Commission, and allegations of wildlife crime in terms of disturbing nesting birds have been referred to Devon and Cornwall Police.”
The tree preservation order, which prohibits destruction of trees, is “our most valued form of tree protection”, he said.
A Forestry Commission spokesperson said the agency was “aware of reports of alleged illegal felling near Capton and have opened an investigation into these allegations”.
It added: “As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot offer any further comment.”