Italy just outlawed street prostitution in 2008. I can't find any mention of whether the forest is where they've always gone, or if it is a new venue in response to fines and jail time for buying and selling sex, but regional public works chief Angelo DiPaolo is suggesting that something has to be done, and his idea is to get rid of the trees. In response, the WWF and two other unspecified environmental groups released a statement which the Guardian reported claimed that the only crime the trees committed was to "offer with their fronds shelter and intimacy to sex slaves." I'm not sure why trees are offering intimacy, but the WWF does have a point. Those trees didn't do anything wrong.
I don't really see why police can't remove or stop a small army of prostitutes from existing somewhere unless there is a partnership between local politicians and crime bosses with ties to international sex-trade. I mean, do they have a bunch of Merry Men or John Rambos guarding the forest? Cutting down the trees seems like a very visible option for a media-hungry politician, and indeed, DiPaolo is known for having once shot at and ran down a bank robber.
The fact is, the river is in an agricultural area. The trees in the small bottomland around the river catch fertilizer and silt runoff from fields. If they cut down these measly but important 69 acres of woodland, it will likely damage the beach-going experience that brings people to the nearby Adriatic resort town of Martinsicuro.
The idea is a failure. If it's a crooked pot-shot at the sex-trade meant to get political favor without angering the crime bosses, it will probably fail by driving away tourists (sex or otherwise) when the beach gets covered in algal blooms and muddy water. If it's a legitimate but short-sighted attempt at stopping sex-trade, then it comes at the possible cost of all tourism to the nearby area, not to mention the loss of a riparian corridor from the mountains to the sea.