Government told to put a ban on plastic tree guards

Barry White.

Campaign for National Parks, Friends of the Dales, Friends of the South Downs and nine other National Park Societies have joined forces to call for a ban on plastic tree guards. They called for the ban in evidence given to a recent Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) consultation which sought views on potentially problematic single-use plastic items; whether there is support for future policy action for these items, and how to achieve a shift away from single-use culture. The public consultation closed on 12 February and a summary of views received will be published in due course at:

“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),” said 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.”

It follows a commitment from The Woodland Trust to stop using plastic tree guards on their estate by the end of last year, and efforts by the National Trust to explore, and trial, alternative options – moves supported by National Park Societies and Campaign for National Parks. Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust has also embarked on a plastic-free woodlands project to remove redundant plastic tree guards and promote alternatives.

Friends of the Dales Chair Bruce McLeod said: “Society and governments are increasingly calling for a reduction in plastics in the environment. Due to the Climate Crisis and declarations of a climate emergency, they are also calling for an acceleration of tree planting in order to sequester carbon and off-set carbon emissions. We believe that an increase in tree planting should not equal an increase of plastic in the environment.

“Plastic tree guards are a product of the fossil fuel industry, thereby a contributor to global heating. We support the collection and recycling of redundant tree guards. However, the size of that task only serves to underline that we should not add to this waste. There must be more accountability for the removal of plastic tree guards once they have served their purpose. Alternative (compostable) guards and methods of woodland creation are increasingly being used; they replace the polypropylene tubes that have a life span of centuries either in dumps, other plastic products or as micro plastics in the ocean and soil.”

For more information please go to:

Our Biodiversity themed working group has been working with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s (YDMT) “Together for Trees” project following the Trust’s successful application to the Green Recovery Challenge Lottery Fund. If you want to get involved in a similar activity please contact us at:

Photo: Singleton Forest West-Sussex littered with20 year old degrading plastic tree guards long forgotten see

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