NEWS: COP26 – The role of tree planting in carbon capture

COP26 – Tree Planting & Carbon Capture

Taking positive action to help tackle climate change with Vigilis-Bio

Climate change is one of the world's most pressing problems, and COP26 has witnessed more than 100 world countries that represent 85% of Earth's forests sign a pledge to end deforestation by 2030¹. Among those countries, Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the US and the UK have all signed the pledge.  However, as stated by Sir David Attenborough, our challenge now is to not only halt deforestation, but begin restoring forests around the world².  Trees need to be planted in existing forests and woodlands that have been depleted, and in areas where there were no trees before.

Reforestation and afforestation can help to increase biodiversity, offset carbon, improve water quality in our rivers and streams, reduce flood risk downstream and provide health and wellbeing opportunities.  We need to plant more trees to help reach the UK's target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Tree shelters protect young trees and bushes from grazing by animals.  They are a well-proven and economical route to limiting losses in the first five years of a tree's life.  However, traditional tree shelters are made from oil-based and non-biodegradable plastics, some shelters are not collected at the end of their useful life and are seen to pollute the natural environment with microplastics.

With tree planting set to triple in the UK over the next few years as part of efforts to fight climate change, we believe it is vital to protect and help establish the trees using a method which ‘treads gently’ on the environment we are looking to enhance.   That is why Suregreen have partnered with Biome Bioplastics to develop and bring to market a new range of biodegradable tree shelters: Vigilis-Bio.  After two years of successful lab testing of over 750 samples, our high-performing Vigilis-Bio tree shelter can be installed quickly and efficiently and protect young trees and saplings in the same way as conventional plastic tree shelters.  The crucial difference is that they fully biodegrade in the forest soils and leave behind no toxic residue.  As a result, this product can directly save an estimated 2,500 tonnes of plastic every year that would otherwise end up in the natural environment in the UK alone.

Vigilis-Bio prototype tree shelters have been subject to a desktop Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) by a third-party organisation (namely Bangor University BioComposites Centre).  Based on initial analysis, the new Vigilis-Bio biodegradable tree shelters have a 35% lower carbon footprint than shelters made from polypropylene (measured from raw material to end-of-life).  The shelters are made from polymeric materials that are either already certified as biodegradable in soil conditions (ISO 17566 – a method for determining the ultimate aerobic biodegradability of plastic materials in soils), or are currently undergoing laboratory testing to finalise such certification (in the expectation of a positive result).  This testing establishes that the tree shelter material is broken down by the action of microbes and enzymes commonly found in UK soils and that there are no adverse ecotoxicology impacts arising from such a breakdown.

Vigilis-Bio is leading the way with this advanced new technology, and Suregreen envision a forestry industry free from plastic waste – will you join us on this journey?  Get in touch to find out how you can help to create a sustainable future of forestry by completing our enquiry form here

Alternatively, watch the full story on Vigilis-Bio and learn more here.

¹ COP26: World leaders promise to end deforestation by 2030, BBC

² Leader’s event: Action on Forests and Land-use, COP26


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