NEW YORK (NEWS10) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is urging people to be more conscientious before deciding to do something like carving hearts or your initials into a tree. According to the DEC, carving into the bark of a tree can lead to early death.

Think of the bark as the skin that protects the living tissue inside. By carving into the bark, you create openings that make the trees vulnerable to fungal and bacterial diseases and insect pests. There could be other damaging effects. For instance, it could limit the transport of water and nutrients throughout the tree.