Plastic Free Woodlands, UK

Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) cares for the people, landscape and wildlife of the Dales and helps everyone to appreciate and enjoy this special place.

Plastic guards are critical to enabling young trees to survive and thrive – acting as mini greenhouses and providing protection from browsing animals, weeds and herbicides until the tree is fully established. Following many decades of tree planting up and down the UK, there are now millions of plastic tree tubes littering the landscapes, most of which are made from single-use plastic. These disintegrate into smaller fragments and find their way into the soils and waterways.  With UK Government commitments to plant an extra 30 million trees a year, this problem will only get worse over time. There are biodegradable alternatives to the plastic tree guard, but none yet that are financially viable, compostable and can effectively protect saplings for the required amount of time.   This project will remove redundant tree guards over 8 hectares for reuse or recycling, engage communities and volunteers in tackling the problem, and plant 7,000 trees in 5 woodlands to trial alternatives to the plastic tree guard.  It will also seek a sustainable solution through sector-wide collaboration, disseminating conclusions and recommendations nationally at the end of the trial.

Image: The size of the problem ....