A local voluntary group has criticised Haringey Council for removing 200 newly-planted trees from Finsbury Park on Earth Day.

The Friends of Finsbury Park group issued a statement saying it was “hugely disappointed” by the move after volunteers gave up time to plant the trees to provide shade near a children’s play area.

The group said the trees had been planted with the prior agreement of council staff, but that they were removed on April 22. It happened to also be Earth Day, an annual event promoting environmental issues around the world.

In a Twitter post, the friends said they had heard informally a “suggestion” that the tree planting would infringe on event space for Wireless Festival, which takes place in the park every year. But a council spokesperson said the trees were mistakenly planted in an “unsuitable place” and the decision had “nothing to do with the major events in the park this summer”.

The statement from the group said: “The Friends of Finsbury Park were hugely disappointed to see 200 new trees forcibly removed by Haringey Council officers – on Earth Day. Twenty local volunteers gave up time to plant them and improve the tree cover around Richard Hope Space playground – with prior agreement from council staff.

“We have since had a positive meeting with councillors [Mike] Hakata and [Zena] Brabazon who have publicly apologised on behalf of the council. They have committed the council to replanting the trees in partnership with the Friends of Finsbury Park, and to embed a more collaborative way of working with local groups going forward.

“Green vandalism should not be tolerated in London parks, which are principally open spaces for local residents – not venues for commercialisation.”

A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “We are looking to relocate these 200 trees to a more appropriate place in Finsbury Park, as they were originally planted in an unsuitable location. This was a mistake, for which we have already apologised.

“The trees are currently in our nursery in the park on an interim basis, and we have offered the Friends a meeting to discuss a new setting for them. Wherever they are planted next will be in line with our conservation action plan.

“We look forward to replanting these trees in due course and remain grateful to The Conservation Volunteers and other community stakeholders for all their hard work, help and support on this project.

“We would like to reassure our residents here in Haringey and those further afield that we would never just destroy our trees and this has nothing to do with the major events in the park this summer.

“We already work closely with charitable organisations and community groups here in Haringey, as has been evident throughout the pandemic. However, we remain keen and open to strengthening those ties still further in the future.”