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Collecting Redundant Tree Guards

We applaud our District Officer, James Brown, who was out collecting redundant tree guards around the King Edward VII Estate in Easebourne last month. In ten hours, he collected over 500 tree guards. They’ve been stacked and await removal for recycling.

Now the work begins.

Collecting redundant tree guards

We all know that tree planting forms a key part of our goal to reach net zero carbon emissions in the next three decades. But based on current performance, discarded and redundant tree guards will be a common sight in our countryside since the UK Government has set ambitious targets for planting as many as 3000 hectares of woodland per annum. The good news is, technology has advanced and not all plastic tree guards are fossil fuel based. Today, many products made with UV stabilised polypropylene are generally recyclable.

“We want to see a complete end to the use of single-use plastics in the supply of tree guards (much of which will inevitably become highly polluting micro-plastics),” says the joint response, “as well as the introduction of more effective controls and auditing in order to require a greater focus on recovering old tree guards and preventing further pollution.”

But the problem remains: who will take responsibility for the removal of the overwhelming amount of tree guards still left littering the forest floor? Those who planted the trees? Landowners? Will volunteer groups be the only willing souls out collecting redundant tree guards? The removal is not without high costs. Companies will not simply take the plastic for recycling. There are fees involved.

We will continue our campaign to create more awareness on this issue and explore the options, not to stop the use of tree guards, but to:

•             Increase public awareness both within the South Downs National Park and nationally

•             Call for greater accountability for removal of redundant tree guards – you put them in, you take them out!

•             Lobby tree planting organisations to use alternative methods

•             Work with the South Downs National Park Authority to introduce regulations within the Park covering the use of tree guards

•             Encourage greater use of bio compostable tree guards

•             Organize collection days around the South Downs National Park to remove redundant tree guards

Chris Steibelt