The aim was to establish mixed broadleaf trees on farmland adjacent to existing woodland, where Roe deer and rabbits are plentiful.
The site falls within the HS2 ‘buffer’ zone and therefore attracts strong incentives for landowners to plant trees to mitigate the impact of the planned HS2 rail route. However, with land values high in the area, woodland planting schemes tend to be mainly ‘jigsaw’ plantings (filling in gaps between existing woods), or re-stocks (replacing trees that have recently been felled as part of a woodland management program), which don’t count as new planting and therefore do not qualify for HS2 premium payments.
This landowner chose to do both ‘jigsaw’ and re-stock, but then came another problem – lack of trees. Last year’s very dry summer meant that there was a higher than anticipated demand for young trees to replace those which died of drought, so the imperative was to protect the scarce young trees from the threat of browsing animals, accidental damage by herbicide drift, and lack of water if we were to have a second dry summer in a row.
Deer Fencing of the new planting area would, in theory, have provided protection against deer damage, but would have left the trees vulnerable to rabbit and herbicide damage, as well as offering no moisture retention around the young tree in times of drought. Another factor against fencing was access, with public rights of way through the area and the desire to avoid separating the existing woodland from the new planting by imposing a physical barrier. Deer fencing also has to be maintained and frequently checked for damage.
In the end, with all of these factors considered, our Vigilis 1.2m tree shelters were chosen and installed using strong timber stakes. These shelters would offer the best and most cost-effective solution for ensuring not just the survival of the young trees, but also the lowest impact on access and improved form of the tree (straight trunks with no side branches up to the height of the tube). This would enhance timber value many years down the line.
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