This research aims to determine the practicality, durability, and efficacy of non-plastic biodegradable treeshelters and other tree protection methods as alternatives to using treeshelters made from conventional plastics. We will be subjecting the products and methods to independent objective scrutiny using robust and statistically valid methods allowing the data we collect to be analysed and placed in the public domain for peer review in a reputable scientific journal.
Treeshelters were invented by the Forestry Commission in the 1970s and have proven to be a successful innovation, with many tens of millions of units produced and used worldwide, by a variety of different manufacturers.
However, conventional treeshelters can form a source of plastic pollution if they are not collected at the end of their useful life. A number of manufacturers have therefore been striving to develop biodegradable products that could potentially be left on site without a need for them to be removed and recycled. Various claims have been made as to the efficacy and environmental credentials of these products.
We will be carrying out an independent investigation of treeshelters being brought to market as alternatives to those made from conventional plastics. The research project will consist of three elements:-
1) Field experiments on a range of contrasting forest sites across Britain to determine the practicality, durability, and efficacy of non-plastic biodegradable treeshelters, and other silvicultural approaches.
2) An assessment of likely environmental impact and degradation end points of the alternative products used in the field experiments, based on evidence provided by manufacturers.
3) A time and method study focusing on the costs and practicality of using the different products.
This work is funded by the Science and Innovation Strategy for Forestry in Great Britain; the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra); and a group of eleven organisations from across the forest industry in the UK and Ireland which collectively form the ‘Forestry Plastics Group’ comprising:- Coillte; Forestry England; Forest Services England; Forestry and Land Scotland; Natural Resources Wales; the National Trust; Scottish Forestry; Tilhill via the Scottish Forestry Trust; the Woodland Trust; the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust; the Yorkshire Dales National Park.