FORESTRY and Land Scotland (FLS) has become the latest organisation to introduce biodegradable tree shelters.

Bosses at the government agency, which manages forests and land owned by Scottish Ministers, say they will now put the "phasing out of plastics" high on their to-do list, with the move coming as part of FLS' Climate Change Plan. 

FLS joins the Woodland Trust in reducing its use of traditional plastic tree shelters after the latter promised last year to replace them with more sustainable materials such as cardboard.

READ MORE: Sustainability: Woodland Trust pledges to end use of plastic tree guards

Gareth Waters, FLS’ interim head of operational support, said: “Our Climate Change Plan commits us to becoming more sustainable across the board and phasing out single-use plastics is high on our to-do list.

“This new biodegradable product is not only good for the environment and for wildlife but will also free up time for our local foresters who will no longer need to gather up used tree shelters.

“We’re now encouraging all of our teams across the country to make the environmentally friendly, sustainable choice.

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“It’s one of the first, big steps on our journey and we’re looking forward to adopting other innovative solutions as we head towards Net Zero.”

Tree shelters are vitally important to protect young seedlings and trees from browsing damage from deer and other animals. Every year, FLS uses approximately 200,000 of them, and collecting them for suitable disposal eats up time that could be better spent on other forest management activity. 

The new product (Tubex Nature) is manufactured from biodegradable polymers derived from biomass.

Much debate remains in the industry as to the best and most climate-friendly approach to tree shelters, with some even suggesting it is best to reuse existing shelters and others arguing their use could be stopped entirely.