A recent UK study from scientists at the University College London has found that trees should be planted without plastic protective tubes.
Saplings have generally been planted in translucent plastic tubes as protection from being eaten by browsing animals since the 1970s.
The UK study found that it would be better to lose a certain percentage of saplings than to use plastic guards to protect them.
“Mass planting of trees to fulfill the net-zero targets could therefore entail a substantial amount of plastic tree shelters to be manufactured and left unrecovered in the environment,” the UK study warned, as quoted by British news outlet The Guardian.
Plastic guards consumed significant carbon emissions from their manufacture. They are rarely collected after use because they break down into microplastics, polluting the natural environment and harming wildlife.
Plans to increase Britain’s forest cover to combat the climate crisis could mean vast quantities of plastic filling the countryside.
The UK’s independent climate advisory body in its November 2018 report has recommended increasing national forest cover from 13% to up to 19% by 2050.
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