Essex Forestry Initiative – Natural Tree Guards

Solution: Redesign; to provide protection and reduce plastic. Owner: Essex Forestry Initiative. Circular Strategy: Redesign.

Tree guards


The Essex Forest Initiative (EFI) are working to replace plastic tree guards for biodegradable guards in line with the 2022 plastic-free initiative. Plastic tree guards were originally used when planting a tree and removed once matured. Over the next 5 years, the EFI have committed to plant one million pounds worth of trees over 150 hectares of land, where it was realised, it would use up large resources to remove these guards. The solution was to grow trees without guards within a protected perimeter or to create tree guards that would fully biodegrade in-situ, fulfilling their plastic-free initiative.




Countywide with 375,000 trees being planted over 150 hectares of land.

Potential circular economy impact

Plastic waste and pollution is designed out of the project at the planning stage. The compostable and biodegradable element of the cardboard guards ensures that minimal waste is created, and no pollution is left in the planting areas.

These will be produced in a factory that is powered by wind and solar power, so the carbon footprint for the materials is minimal.

What’s involved?

People: Staff expertise and coordination; volunteers to plant trees.

Resources: Land use; trees; guards; fencing.

Technology: Social media; Citizen Space to recruit volunteers.

Implementation: Replacing plastic tree guards with biodegradable ones.

More information

Essex Forestry Initiative website