A GROUP of locals and expats have launched a campaign to save the oldest tree in Malaga.

El Castaño Santo is around 800 years old but it is plagued by disease and is ‘dying from stress’.

The chestnut tree, in the Sierra de las Nieves natural park, needs decking to protect its roots.

A petition has now been launched to have the tree, near Istan, declared a ‘natural monument’.

Green group Istan Ahora, which launched the campaign, said: “We encourage all readers of the Olive Press to visit El Castaño Santo and sign our petition to have it registered as a monument.

“It is also a beautiful place to go hiking, with an idyllic setting in which to disconnect from the madding crowd and fully enter nature.”

The group insists the tree, which sits on private land, is being badly affected by thousands of hikers visiting it each year.

“Visitors walk over its roots and prevent it from breathing and absorbing the water it needs.

“Another major problem is that it is affected by the plague of ‘gall wasps’ which make it increasingly weak and defenseless.”

Visit the Istan Ahora Facebook page for updates and tips on how to help.

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