Q: How long will Vigilis-Bio protect young trees?
A: Vigilis-bio is designed to provide good physical protection to growing trees for approximately 5 years. After that time, the soil bacteria will begin to break down the shelter, leaving behind only CO2, water and a few naturally occurring minerals.
Q. Are Vigilis-Bio Tree Shelters as robust as traditional polypropylene tree shelters?
A. Yes. Testing of the physical strength, flexibility and tear resistance are comparable with the existing Vigilis product.
Q: How can you be sure that Vigilis-Bio will biodegrade?
A: Vigilis-Bio has undergone ISO standard biodegradation testing, which measures the conversion of carbon into CO2 and biomass by microorganisms. This testing is carried out on fragmented Vigilis-Bio material, which has been put in contact with natural samples of soil containing microorganisms.
Q: Why not get rid of tree shelters altogether or perhaps use fencing instead?
A: On some sites, dispensing with tree shelters can result in the loss of 80% to 90% of saplings - this is expensive and inefficient. Fencing can be useful but is costly and compromises the free movement of animals and consequent biodiversity which is vital to landowners and other stakeholders.
Q. Is the Vigilis-Bio Tree Shelter range now available for commercial supply?
A. Over the last two years, a project team of five has developed and laboratory-tested over 750 samples of the new products for mechanical properties, weathering and biodegradation over a simulated seven-year period at a cost of £500k. We are now running field trials with selected customers. These trials aim to validate at scale how the products perform in a variety of real-world sites and conditions over the next few years. Alongside this extensive trial work, as our experience grows, we are now taking commercial orders from customers prepared to help change the industry dynamic.
Q. Are biodegradable tree shelters the way forward for the forestry industry?
A. It is no longer environmentally and socially acceptable for conventional tree shelters to be left in the environment after use as they will fragment and end up as long-lived “microplastics” in the soil. The collection of tree shelters after use is both difficult and expensive. We believe the way forward for Vigilis Tree Shelters and the forestry industry is to provide a tree shelter that can be left on site after use and then biodegrade in a timely and benign manner.