More on Trees: Shelters and Statistics

Ken Thomson

The article on trees in the previous issue of Mountain Views led to a few responses, one referring to the thousands of unlovely tree guards that in recent years have appeared in the countryside, with more on the way. There are at least two official publications devoted to the topic, and many commercial websites, but, in brief:

The Woodland Trust has pledged not to use new single-use plastic tree guards from the end of 2021, and is funding research into alternatives. It is also looking at planting techniques that avoid the use of individual tree protection wherever possible, including planting extra trees to help mitigate losses to browsing, deer and rabbit fencing, timber barriers, direct seeding, positive management for natural regeneration (reducing the need for planting) and humane animal control. It is also re-using tree shelters – with some being used three times if the right type of tube and fixing is selected.

In the UK as a whole, around 13,000 hectares (ha) of new woodland – about 80% in Scotland - were created in 2020-21, less than in the previous two years, and a little less than publicly funded restocking. The UK Government’s target is for 30,000 ha to be planted annually by the end of 2025. The new England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) scheme will pay up to £8,500 per ha to cover up to 100% of establishment costs, plus annual maintenance payments of £200 for 10 years, and there are additional payments for various “public goods”, ie species recovery (up to £2,800 per ha); riparian buffers (£1,600); reduced flood risk (£500); improved water quality (£400); improved public access (£2,200); and local socio-environmental benefits (£500). Unlike previous schemes, EWCO is applicable to areas over 1 (rather than 10) ha, and is administered by the Forestry Commission (which is expected to result in simplified application).

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