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Tubex Voleguards protect major timber production research project

28 June 2022

18,000 Tubex Voleguards were donated to major Future Trees Trust timber production progeny testing project, to protect saplings from pests.

A major progeny testing project into commercial timber is being protected from damage by pests, thanks to the donation of 18,000 Voleguards from tree protection specialist Tubex.

The donation is the latest contribution by Tubex to a longstanding relationship with Future Trees Trust, a charity dedicated to producing better planting stock of UK broadleaved trees by conventional selective breeding.  By focussing on the most commercially important breeds – such as oak, birch, ash and sycamore – Future Trees Trust aims to improve the quality of commercial timber to support the UK forestry industry’s longevity.

Tubex has supported the charity since 2011, providing its tree shelters for use in seed orchards where it is too expensive to fence the entire site. For certain projects, however, a smaller solution is required – as on this occasion.

Future Trees Trust’s progeny testing project

For the progeny testing, Future Trees Trust has collected seeds from individual sycamore and silver birch trees that have shown particularly strong health, relating to Categories A and B in the UK Forestry Standard and outstanding timber characteristics. The plants are being cell grown by Cheviot Trees and the saplings will be planted this winter at six trial sites on both private and public estates.  Crucially, these sites are located around the UK, so that Future Trees Trust can evaluate trees’ genetic worth in different environmental conditions.

“The trials are designed to find best parents for timber production across a range of sites,” explained Jo Clark, Head of Research at Future Trees Trust. “Are they good because of the specific environment they grew in, and won’t perform the same elsewhere? Or they are genetically strong and will thrive everywhere?”

To provide reliable, long-term data, the trials will typically run 15 years, allowing regular testing and evaluation of tree growth and health.  As such, protecting the trees is imperative.  As trees  will be closely spaced (2 x 2m), the trial sites can be fenced, but this will not protect the trees from the voracious appetites of voles.

“I’ve seen entire sites ruined by vole damage, so it isn’t worth the risk. We needed a solution and, as they’ve done in the past, Tubex has kindly donated enough products to protect each tree in all six trials,” explained Jo Clark.

Protecting trees from vole damage

It was here that Adam Topliss, Key Account Manager at Tubex, recommended its Voleguards as the perfect answer to the problem.  “We’re more than happy to help Future Trees Trust, as the work they do is vital for ensuring the UK has enough high-quality trees for timber production,” Adam said. “As each site will have up to 3,000 trees, we’ve supplied 18,000 Voleguards!”

Future Trees Trust rates the performance of Tubex Voleguards for two key reasons. Firstly, they wrap around the tree entirely, providing 360-degree protection.  Secondly, they are designed to expand as each tree grows, providing Future Trees Trust with reassurance that the trees will be protected for the duration of the trial

“The Voleguards will remain on the trees for at least five years,” confirmed Jo Clark.  “But in the past, I’ve lost trees of up to 10cm diameter to voles, so it’s possible the Voleguards will stay on for the whole trial period.”

The Voleguards are recyclable and Tubex will collect them once used as part of its Collection & Recycling Scheme.

“We’re a small charity, so the involvement of partners like Tubex is invaluable to making sure we complete our important research. I’m really grateful to Adam and everyone at Tubex for their continuing support,” she concluded.