Trees made famous by Game of Thrones are to be cut amid concerns they are dangerous to the public.
The Dark Hedges, a tunnel of beech trees that featured prominently in the second season of the popular fantasy series, is located in Northern Ireland on Bregagh Road near Armoy.
Stormont's Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said work will begin at the site in Co Antrim on Monday, when six of the trees will be removed and restoration work will be carried out on several others.
The trees were planted more than 200 years ago at the entrance to the Stuart family's Gracehill House. Originally there were 150 trees, but that number will now drop to around 80.
Game of Thrones fans from all over the world have traveled to the area to walk the popular route which is featured on tours of designated locations in Northern Ireland.
By 2017, the site was so popular that driving along the Road had to be banned to protect the tree roots.
Mervyn Storey, chairman of the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust, said the work followed two reports which concluded that some trees should be removed for safety reasons.
The former DUP MLA said: “While we would like these trees to last forever, the reality is that if they are 300 years old, that will not happen and this project has to be carried out.
“I think it's also another indicator of the long journey we're on in terms of creating a management structure to manage this sector.
“Eight seconds in Game Of Thrones changed Bregagh Road and the Dark Hedges forever and we still have people today, even though the road is closed, from California.
“It has been a tourist attraction in recent years.
“Yes, work needs to be done, but there needs to be a long-term plan, and that's going to take money, and where does it come from?”
Mr Story added: “We don't want to stop people but we also want to make sure that when people come here they are safe.
“There needs to be aggressive replanting, there was replanting done at the end of 2014 but due to lack of resources to sustain that planting it wasn't needed.”
The DfI said the decision to cut down many trees had not been taken lightly, but confirmed road safety was of “paramount importance”.
“Following concerns about the condition of some of the trees, the department commissioned an independent specialist survey which found that 11 trees, out of a total of 86, along this route are in poor condition and could pose a potential danger to the public. ,” said a spokesperson.
The department added that they immediately contacted the relevant landowners and stakeholders to make arrangements and reduce public risk.
The spokesman added: “This decision has not been taken lightly and, while the amenity value of the tree-lined corridor is recognised, the safety of road users is paramount.”
Six trees will be removed, four will be rehabilitated and the condition of one more tree will be assessed on site. The DfI says it is working with relevant parties to protect the future of the other 75 trees.
Work began today and is expected to be completed on Thursday, weather permitting. The road has been closed to both vehicles and pedestrians during the planned works.