Friends of the Lake District's use of Plastic Tree Guards - 7th March 2022

We are no longer buying new plastic tree guards but re-using from our current stock. Our approach is to re-use from our existing stock while we await the outcome of current trials of non-plastic tree tubes which look very promising. When we next add to our stock of tree tubes, our intention is to adopt a more environmentally friendly solution. 

The tree guards currently in use on our land are not biodegradable but most will have been in ownership for many years, seeing many saplings through their first years before being removed and re-used. The stock is carefully managed and re-used multiple times as well as being offered to other organisations for small planting schemes across the county.

On many of our properties such as High Borrowdale, planting areas are very exposed and very wet. We have planted between 10-15 thousand trees on this site alone. We have extensive experience, successfully growing tens of thousands of trees in Cumbria but to date have seen no alternative to plastic robust enough to allow us to grow trees successfully in harsher environments. Cardboard has rotted away far too early. 

Sheep wool trials look promising and this is a solution we would love to see. The trials are still in the early stages but it would be wonderful to find an additional and more profitable outlet for some of the Lakeland sheep wool. It has the potential to reduce the use of plastics, prevent the waste of fleeces and help the economic viability of Cumbrian farming flocks. 

We are delighted to see the effort being put into current research and our hope and expectation is that we will soon see viable alternatives to plastic available; capable of providing the protection needed to successfully grow trees in Cumbria’s challenging conditions and allowing us to phase out current stocks of plastic tubing.