Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
11:49 AM 29th October 2020

Funding Secured For Plastic Free Woodlands Project

Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) is celebrating after it topped a public poll to secure European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) funding.

The Clapham-based charity’s Plastic Free Woodlands project, which would see the removal of redundant plastic tree guards alongside the planting of more than 7,000 trees to trial alternatives, received overwhelming backing in the vote.

Each year EOCA runs two funding rounds in which supporters of the association, its members and the public vote to choose which project wins financial support.

YDMT’s project, which featured in the ‘Land’ category, also called for a different approach in planting woodland.

David Sharrod, YDMT Chief Executive, said:
“We’d like to thank everyone who voted to make our plastic free woodlands project become a reality. The support we have had from individuals, charities, organisations and businesses across the country has been truly overwhelming.

“Helping the people, landscape and wildlife of the Dales and surrounding areas is what we do – and we can’t do a project like this without your support.”

YDMT’s project will see communities and volunteers engaged in tackling the plastic problem, whilst seeking a sustainable solution through sector-wide collaboration, disseminating conclusions and recommendations nationally.

“We know three billion trees must be planted by 2050 to counteract Britain’s contribution to climate change,” David added. “But we do not want three billion plastic tubes littering our environment and damaging ecosystems.

“Plastic guards are critical to enabling young trees to survive and thrive – acting as mini greenhouses and providing protection from browsing animals, weeds and herbicides until the tree is fully established.

“But following many decades of tree planting up and down the UK, there are now millions of plastic tree tubes littering the landscapes, most of which are made from single-use plastic. These disintegrate into smaller fragments and find their way into the soils and waterways.

“However, with increased tree planting, this problem will only get worse over time. There are biodegradable alternatives to the plastic tree guard, but none yet that are financially viable, compostable and can effectively protect saplings for the required amount of time.

“We’re playing a significant part in the national debate on the use of plastic in woodlands – and this funding now allows us to put practical work into action.

“Thank you to all that have supported us.”