Around 800 'eyesore' tree guards removed from North Yorkshire farm

Katie Birks from Plastic Free Skipton with tree guards collected in the litter pick. Picture: Friends of the Dales
Katie Birks from Plastic Free Skipton with tree guards collected in the litter pick. Picture: Friends of the Dales
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Around 800 redundant tree guards have been removed from a farm in Otterburn by a team of volunteers.

The tree guard litter pick is part of a new campaign initiated by charity Friends of the Dales to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in the National Park.

Taking part were not only members of Friends of the Dales but pressure group, Plastic Free Skipton.

Bruce McLeod, chair of Friends of the Dales, branded the guards an eyesore.

“Plastic tree guards are a product of the petro-chemical industry, both their production and presence in the Dales landscape is polluting, not to mention an eyesore,” he said.

This was the second pick by the group of around a dozen volunteers who spent two hours clearing guards ready for collection.

The charity said the farmers, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Yorkshire Wildlife and Farming Partnership, which planted most of the trees, were all very supportive of the campaign and it was now time to look at alternatives to the plastic guards.

“Collecting and reusing or recycling them is important but is not the solution,” said Mr McLeod. “It is time to stop using them. Finding biodegradable alternatives is key to protecting trees and the environment in the future.”

He said the hundreds of guards the team had collected was only a small proportion of the plastic and non-biodegradable material out in the countryside.

A point reinforced by Katie Birks from Plastic Free Skipton.

“The pick really opened our eyes to the millions of sturdy non-biodegradable wrappers already littering the Dales, many years after they’ve ceased to be useful,” she said.

Ms Birks said with plans to plant more trees it was time to re-think the material used to manufacture the guards.

“We’re very excited about the plans to plant millions more trees, but it would be totally bonkers to wrap them individually in plastic,” she said.

“Biodegradable versions now exist, and there’s also the option in certain areas to avoid them altogether. Our litter pick will hopefully help spread the word and get people thinking differently.”

Mr McLeod agreed saying: “We are pleased that the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust is taking the lead on this.

“However, before thousands and thousands of new trees are planted, we are urging all organisations responsible for re-forestation to stop using plastic guards.

“We hope that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority will spearhead this and set an example for other protected landscapes.”