Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Beyond Rabbits, Lies Plastic—The Cost of Trees Guards

Wandering through Newton Wood on this beautiful morning, I felt the long-awaited arrival of spring. Sunlight gently filtered through the canopy, illuminating the lush greenery of wild garlic blanketing the woodland floor. Ascending further, I passed through an azure sea of bluebells, heralding the season alongside the blooming rowan and holly.

On Roseberry Common, this flourishing plantation, once mere saplings, now robust with life, the presence of old plastic tree guards, known as Tuley Tubes, strikes a discordant note. While once beneficial, many lie fractured and ensnared around the now sturdy trunks, while others languish unseen beneath the undergrowth of last year’s bracken, destined to degrade into microplastics over time. Regrettably, no attempts are being made to rectify this plastic blight, which will eventually seriously impede the trees’ growth.

Such scenes are regrettably commonplace throughout our countryside. Merely this week, I have seen plastic pollution adversely affecting trees in various guises: vast swathes of plastic encircling a hazel in a nature reserve, a dogwood tree ensnared by roadside debris, and a hawthorn hedge concealed beneath a veil of plastic tubes — a dense hedge base being pivotal for efficacy.

While tree shelters serve to safeguard young saplings from marauding rabbits and other wildlife, these ostensibly reusable or recyclable guards often degrade into agents of harm, polluting the environment with microplastics. In response, many conservation bodies are exploring eco-friendly alternatives made of wool or cardboard. Alas, the spectre of heightened expense looms over such endeavours.







2 responses to “Beyond Rabbits, Lies Plastic—The Cost of Trees Guards”

  1. Reece avatar

    To be honest I’m not convinced those plastic guards are even necessary in the majority of cases, I think it’s just a habit we’ve got into and stupid bureaucracy keeps it going. If you’re planting things like hedges, or woodland trees for purely environmental reasons (i.e. you don’t need totally straight trees for timber production), does it matter if a rabbit or hare bites some of them off? In most places the pressure from that is so low the trees will easily regrow, rabbit numbers just aren’t high enough to actually suppress them. Grouse moor areas with ridiculous rabbit numbers perhaps being one of the exceptions.

  2. Bob Howe avatar
    Bob Howe

    We should spend a morning collecting them and take them to the tip

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