Willow trees are being felled on Central Hawke's Bay riverbanks to help with flood protection, which makes it looks like "a meteorite has struck", a frustrated resident says.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council says that pushing over trees along the Waipawa River and Tukituki River near Waipukurau will help with flood protection.

Resident Paul Mayes said it was hard to believe the destruction was man-made, saying it looked like a meteorite had struck the area.

He said the area by the river was really nice, especially in summer, but the destruction of the trees made it less pleasant.

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Other concerned CHB residents took to social media last week to post photos of numerous trees that had been pushed over or felled along the river's banks, which they complained was restricting access and "looked like carnage".

A council spokesman said it was part of an ongoing flood protection works programme.

"I appreciate it's not pretty in the short term, but the willows will re-sprout quickly and there will be some further tidying up done by the [council's] works group to enable river access to swimming spots."

The spokesman explained the trees were pushed over to enable "new growth to sprout", which would further protect the riverbanks.

He said the felled trees would be made available to the community for firewood, and some screen planting would occur next winter.