“They are rarely collected after use, meaning they break down into microplastics, polluting the natural environment and harming wildlife.”
A comment on a recent posting on VGS social media points out one of the problems with tree planting:
“Lets hope they remove and recycle those 3,500 plastic tubes before they begin to break down into the environment…”
Others are also not happy, with this piece from yesterday’s Yorkshire Post:
Back in the summer, alternatives were indeed being looked at:
Trees should be planted without plastic guards, says UK study
Woodland Trust and National Trust trial sustainable alternatives to plastic protection for millions of saplings
Planting trees without plastic tree guards should be standard practice, a UK study has found, as leading conservation charities and landowners seek sustainable alternatives to reduce plastic waste
The Woodland Trust has announced it is aiming to stop using plastic tree guards by the end of the year. It is trialling plastic-free options at its Avoncliff site in Wiltshire, including cardboard and British wool. The charity plans to plant 10 million trees each year until 2025.
Since the 1970s, saplings have generally been planted in translucent plastic tubes to protect them from being eaten by browsing animals. However, the research – which analysed the lifecycle of the plastic and trees – found it was better to lose a certain percentage of saplings than use plastic guards to protect them. This is because there are significant carbon emissions from the manufacture of the guards, and they are rarely collected after use, meaning they break down into microplastics, polluting the natural environment and harming wildlife.
This is the full study:
Meanwhile back in Devon, this week the National Trust is at work:
The charity is also trialling a different method of tree planting to reduce the use of plastic tree guards. Turf will be scraped off so that trees can be planted directly into the soil, (and this reduces the risk of vole damage to tree saplings which is one of the reasons to use guards).
And last spring, the Devon Wildlife Trust was using alternatives at a tree-planting project:
(6) Devon Wildlife Trust on Twitter: “🌱Our #TRRP team have been planting trees to reduce impacts of warming on rivers by providing shade, replacing trees lost from Ash Dieback. They are also protected by compostable sirane tree guards instead of plastic! Thanks to @EnvAgency and the landowners! #WEG #SaveDevonsTrees https://t.co/ElMSlooTxt” / Twitter