The sustainability credentials and resilience of Tubex tree shelters have led to them being selected for a ground-breaking rewilding project, resulting in sapling survival rates of 90 to 95% and helping to create beneficial conditions for wildlife.
Located in north Somerset, the 3.5-acre rewilding project is the personal project of Chris D’Agorne, founder of the How to Rewild website, which provides a range of guides on everything from tree planting to land acquisition for individuals and organisations looking to start their own rewilding projects.
Over 800 trees of various native species were planted at the site, which has a significant population of deer and voles. Tubex Standard Recyclable tree shelters were installed to protect from this browsing risk, to facilitate growth and to insulate the saplings from extreme weather conditions.
Speaking about the principles behind the project Chris explained, “Abandoned land doesn’t just rewild itself – it can take up to 30 years to reach a bare minimum of health, that’s why landscapes need help and direction. Getting to know your land is key in rewilding. Understand what the natural processes are, see what the land wants to do and lean into that.”
This principle led to the creation of seven ponds, the sowing of wildflower seeds and substantial tree planting, as part of a ‘bottom-up’ or intervention-based rewilding plan for the former farmland.
As part of this, naturally occurring tree species such as alder, wych elm, and wild cherry were planted in a naturalistic style with plenty of edge habitats and open spaces such as meadows interspersed with single standing trees such as oak. Planting in this way helps to create shade, localised humidity and structural diversity, which is key to accommodating a wide diversity of animal and insect species.
How tree shelters contribute to successful rewilding
The decision to use tree shelters was carefully considered against other options.
“The south of England has a significant deer problem, much like Scotland, and obviously this poses a risk to the saplings. I considered natural alternatives to tree shelters such as thorny nurseries and brash cover but at scale these just weren’t practical to implement.
“Knowing that I was going to use them, I wanted shelters that were resilient so I could have certainty that they’d still be there years later – but I also wanted the least environmentally impactful option and that’s why, after conducting some research, I chose Tubex,” said Chris.
“The existence of the Tubex Collection and Recycling Programme was a key thing for me, it shows that Tubex have put thought into what happens to shelters at end-of-use.
“I was also surprised at a couple of things; first, to see that we had something like a 90 to 95% survival rate despite the late planting time. Second, how well the shelters stood up to the elements – after Storm Arwen hit, we only had a few shelters that were slightly bent, which was a huge relief!” continued Chris.
The project, which started in early 2022, has already seen a wealth of wildlife establish themselves at the site, including a resident barn owl.
“Within the first year, we’ve had Shelduck, Moorhen and Heron repeatedly visiting the ponds, Kestrel and Barn Owl regularly hunting in the meadows and the invertebrates and mammals have absolutely exploded in abundance. The contrast with the previous summer’s absolute lack of wildlife was breathtaking!”, said Chris.
For more information about Chris’ rewilding project you can visit the How to Rewild website here: https://howtorewild.co.uk/blog/how-to-run-a-small-scale-rewilding-project/
Photo Credit: Chris D’Agorne, howtorewild.co.uk
 Chau, C; Paulillo, A; Lu, N; Miodownik, M; Lettieri, P; (2021) The environmental performance of protecting seedlings with plastic tree shelters for afforestation in temperate oceanic regions: A UK case study. Science of the Total Environment , 791 , Article 148239.