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Local schoolchildren help recycle hundreds of plastic tree guards on University campus

Posted on 4 November 2021

Local schoolchildren joined forces with University of York staff to collect and recycle hundreds of plastic tree guards in an event aimed at improving woodland on the campus.

Volunteers collected discarded tree guards. Pic credit: University of York

Children and staff from Lord Deramore’s Primary School in Heslington joined University employees and local environmental volunteers to collect discarded tree guards for recycling and to learn more about the woodland. 

Global

The aim of the event was to give Year 6 children an insight into the type of work that the University’s grounds team carry out. It was also aimed at drawing attention to the future health of  our global environment, as well as highlighting how, by working together, our shared environments can be greatly improved. 

Diamond Wood was planted in 2012 at Kimberlow Hill as part of celebrations to mark the Queen’s 60-year reign. The area was chosen by the Woodland Trust under its Jubilee Woods project and was planted with over 16,700 trees.

As the trees have grown they have shed the plastic tree guards which are used to protect them as saplings from being eaten by browsing animals. The number of tree guards left discarded on the woodland has risen dramatically in the last two years and the the event was used to enhance the appearance of the area, which is regularly used by the local community and University students.  

Recycling

The event was jointly coordinated by Gordon Eastham, University of York’s Grounds Manager, Derek Utley from the tree planting group Treemendous, and Miki Storey from the local environmental charity John Lally International Foundation (JLIF).

Helen Smith, Year 6 teacher at Lord Dermore’s Primary School, said: “Lord Deramore’s School and the University of York have been developing links during the past couple of years. We were delighted to be involved in this project which promotes the importance of recycling and demonstrates how each and every one of us can play our part.

"The children love participating in a range of activities outside the classroom and it links well with our Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) about being a global citizen.”

Mike Storey from the local environmental charity John Lally International Foundation, said: “Many millions of trees have been planted across the UK using plastic tree guards, and there seems to have been no economic structuring put in place to retrieve these pollutive elements back from our environments.”

Volunteers

Derek Utley, a founder member and leading light of the York Tree planting group Treemendous, said: “It is crucial to find a solution to dealing with this very large scale environmental problem.

“Until then the responsibility will lay with volunteer groups such as Treemendous and JLIF and forward thinking Grounds Managers like Gordon Eastham to come up with solutions to rid our new forests of this unwanted, unsightly and damaging legacy.”

In early October, the University celebrated its campus maintaining Green Flag status, which it has held since 2013. The Green Flag Award is the benchmark national standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom.

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