Plastic on our NNRs #1

Since the release of Blue Planet 2, we have all become more aware of plastic in our lives. More than ever before we are thinking about how we use plastic on a daily basis, how it enters our marine and terrestrial environments and most importantly what can be done to avoid plastic pollution. Like many people, now my eyes are open to the crisis and it’s hard not to see plastic everywhere I go!

To take action against the plastic crisis, this year the NNR team have pledged to reduce our consumption of new resources and re-use and recycle as much as possible. For example, we have started collecting rubbish in repurposed livestock feed bags instead of throwing away black bin bags each time we do a litter pick and we are increasing our effort to sort through and recycle what we pick up on the reserves.

A recent visit to Blawhorn Moss NNR got me thinking about another type of plastic which is often seen on nature reserves – tree guards. Tree guards are placed around young trees at the time of planting and prevent them from being eaten by herbivores such as deer and rabbits. They also offer protection from herbicides being used nearby and create a microclimate inside the tube, allowing trees to grow faster and reach a size where herbivores don’t pose as much of a threat. So they do an excellent job of making tree planting more efficient, saving the planter time and money by avoiding the need to replant trees that are killed or eaten. The issue is what happens to the plastic at the end of its use and all too often tree guards are found discarded in UK woodlands.

At Blawhorn Moss NNR an area next to the carpark was planted with birch trees 20 years ago. Although we do not own this land or have any management input, discarded tree guards have been appearing piled up next to the car park and looking untidy. With our 2020 pledge in mind we decided it was time to do something about them so we started looking into ways of repurposing or recycling them.. and so began my tree guard obsession!

Stay tuned to follow my series of blogs on this topic, covering the issue and impact of discarded tree guards, alternative materials to plastic and recycling options.

Also let us know how you reduce and reuse plastic in your garden or NNR – comment below or share with us on Instagram @flandersmossnnr or facebook @FlandersNNR.

And check out Dave’s blog from his time at Forvie NNR on re-purposing washed up beach rubbish

To be continued..

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