Removal of the Old Guard at Trumpington Meadows

Since the 1970s, saplings from trees across the country have been planted in translucent plastic tubes to protect them from animal grazing.

A Trumpington Meadows working group with Cambridge University Press. Photo: Rebecca Green (53759554)

While protecting the growth of young saplings, these plastic protectors are now causing problems – as we all know, plastic is a problem; it does not biodegrade and it is not environmentally friendly, yet it was chosen for its longevity and effectiveness in protecting young trees from damage.

Research has shown that it is better to lose a certain percentage of saplings rather than using plastic protectors to protect them – significant carbon emissions come from the manufacture of the protectors, and they break down into microplastics, polluting the sapling. natural environment and harmful to wildlife.

The Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust has been working to remove the remaining plastic tree guards that have supported the trees since they were first planted in Trumpington Meadows. So far, around 4,000 guards have been removed this year, several thousand in previous years, and around 1,000 more to be done.

An oak guard at Trumpington Meadows is removed.  Photo: Rebecca Green (53759575)
An oak guard at Trumpington Meadows is removed. Photo: Rebecca Green (53759575)

The trust rangers were aided by a team of volunteers, as well as local business groups Cambridge University Press and Arm on Wild Work Days, as well as students from Leys School in Cambridge who present their Duke Awards of Edinburgh.

After being removed, each shield – a mix of different types of plastic, mostly polypropylene and polyethylene – is flattened and neatly packaged in one-ton bags, 10 of which have been refilled recently and are recycled through a company called Tubex. (https: // tubex. com / recycling /).

Seeking to eradicate the use of plastic in all future plantation projects, as well as many other charities and conservation landowners, the trust is looking for viable and sustainable alternatives.

An oak guard at Trumpington Meadows is removed.  Photo: Rebecca Green (53759573)
An oak guard at Trumpington Meadows is removed. Photo: Rebecca Green (53759573)

Biodegradable tubes ( are available in bio-based materials which are compostable without contaminating the soil or leaving toxic residues when degraded, and there is also a model made from British wool. and cashew nut oil with a good sustainability rating while creating a new market for materials currently considered waste.

Wild working days

The Trust’s Wild Work Days provide unique teamwork for businesses looking to get involved and make a difference to local wildlife and community spaces, with tasks such as building fences, coppicing or laying hurdles – there are always lots of tasks and there is a lot of confidence to hear from companies that would like to get involved.


Carbon mapping of natural reserves

Managing over 4,000 ha of land in over 100 nature reserves, the trust seeks to understand and calculate how much carbon these nature reserves currently store and where it may be possible to store even more carbon in the future.

To achieve this, detailed habitat maps of all reserves are being developed and work is underway to bring together the most recent habitat information and digitize it using a consistent system.

The first figures for Cambridgeshire show that about half of the area managed by the Wildlife Trust is grassland and a quarter is forest. The remainder is mostly wetland habitat – open water and swamp / marsh habitats – and some arable land in the Great Fen, including areas currently used in alternative crop trials.

Trees are very good at storing carbon, and calculating the carbon stored in above-ground biomass (i.e. carbon in plants growing in reserves) shows that 25 percent of the tree-covered reserves represent about 90 percent of the carbon stored in the biomass surface.

That’s not all yet and a lot of work will be done to finish mapping habitats, analyzing soils (peat for example) which has a major role to play in carbon storage, but also weighing emissions. carbon – each habitat is a living system that is part of a carbon cycle that will emit and absorb carbon throughout the year.

Once the initial mapping and calculations are done, the trust will better understand the contribution of reserves to carbon lock-in and look for ways to do it even better.

Wild Workshops

Ever wanted to be introduced to a crane fly? Want to know more about woodlice? Now is your chance. . . immerse yourself in the trust’s in-depth workshop program throughout the year where experts in their field will help identify everything from vertebrates to invertebrates, species in the botanical world – from fungi to plants, management techniques to habitat and practical skills such as ecological records or charcoal making.

On the program for 2022, meet butterflies, bumblebees, beetles, dormice, dragonflies, spiders and water bugs and learn along the way the song of the birds of the woods. Say aloha to an amphibian – learn about our seven native amphibians, their life cycles and habitats, surveys and monitoring, and the legal issues and health and safety issues associated with surveys.

The trainers are all enthusiastic local naturalists, more than willing to share their vast knowledge with participants, and these exciting workshops offer unique ways to get up close to local wildlife and develop natural history skills.

Read more of the Wildlife trust

Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust launches Youth Forum

How Young Rangers from the Wildlife Trust helped Cambridgeshire Nursing Home

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