Back in 2020 you might remember us telling you about a project started by Senior Ranger Nicola to remove the tree guards from our older Community Woodlands. Although the project has only being going for 2 years, we've hit a pretty impressive milestone...

When our woodlands are newly planted the trees need protection from grazing animals, and from harsh weather conditions. In our experience the best way to do this is to use tree guards - historically made from plastic - that shelter the sapling until it's strong enough to survive and help it grow upright. As the trees grow bigger and become strong enough to thrive on their own, they outgrow and split the guard which then falls to the ground, becoming unsightly waste on the woodland floor.

As part of our efforts to make our tree planting activities as environmentally friendly as possible we didn't want to send these plastic guards to landfill so instead set about researching alternatives, and found a company who could take our wasted tubes and recycle them.

With the help of the Forest of Marston Vale Volunteers, our rangers began collecting enormous bags of old tubes from our woodlands and transporting them to our baling machine, where they could be compacted ready for recycling. After a rocky start in 2020 - when COVID-19 restrictions halted our volunteer workparties - this past winter we managed to deliver a full program of tree guard removal volunteer days.

Despite this set back, since the first session in December 2020 a massive 15,000+ tree guards have been removed.

We would like to say a tremendous thank you to all those volunteers who took part in the sessions, and visitors who asked questions and wanted to know more about the work we were doing when running into us on sites!

We've made a great start, but with over 2 million trees planted since the creations of the Forest we still have a lot more to collect. If you would like to be part of this hugely rewarding project then we'd love to hear from you - we will be starting again this autumn, so be sure to sign up and keep an eye on our newsletter in the coming months.

The facts:

  • Of the 15,000 guards, over 10,000 have been sent to be recycled (unfortunately some of the very early models weren't suitable for the kind of recycling we can do);
  • Approximately 260 hours of work has gone into removing the tree guards;
  • 6 planting compartments across 3 sites have been completed.

At the time that our older woodlands were planted there was no alternative to these plastic guards, but we're now using biodegradable tree guards on our upcoming planting sites to reduce the environmental impact of our new Community Woodlands.

Trees make life better for the people, wildlife and the planet

Creating the Forest of Marston Vale takes an enormous amount of resources, and as a charity we rely heavily on public support and donations to be able to continue our work. If you'd like to help us plant and look after more trees in the Forest please sign up to become a Friend - from just over £1 per week you can help us grow:

Become a Friend