The thirty pupils in Class 6 at Ramsbury Primary School, together with their teacher, Sian Haynes, have embarked on a huge campaign to remove plastic from the local environment, to find ways to replace plastic tree guards with biodegradable material and to ask the Government to ban the use of plastic tree guards. The campaign was launched yesterday, Friday April 30, with a Zoom conference attended by local landowners, representatives of local environmental groups, tree planting/forestry organisations, council members and a compostable tree guard manufacturer.
In the presentation, which began the conference, Class 6 explained that they had evaluated the litter and pollution in the area and found that the main plastic culprits, along with the ubiquitous dog poo bags, face masks and plastic bottles, are the redundant plastic tree guards which line all of our footpaths and bridleways – some of which have been there for 15-20 years. They break up into smaller and smaller pieces and find their way into the River Kennet, causing untold damage to wildlife, and, eventually, the human food chain.
Class 6 appealed to those present to help the campaign. “We want to eradicate this plastic from our village. But we don’t want to just clear up the existing pollution – we want to find new ways of working which prevent this amount of plastic from being used in the future.”
Their plans are for three phases. The first will be a ‘Clean up Ramsbury’ week, to coincide with the Great British Spring Clean May 28-June 13. The pupils appealed to those local landowners present to open up areas and provide trailers to help to remove the rubbish. Sheila Glass, Ramsbury Parish Councillor, offered to arrange for Wiltshire Council to collect the rubbish.
In the second phase, the pupils will carry out research about how compostable alternative tree guards can be made. At the Zoom conference, Andy Barnwell from Ezeetrees was able to demonstrate his tree guards which completely disintegrate into the ground after three to four years. Alistair Ewing of Ramsbury Estates explained that he had to use tree guards to protect saplings from deer, squirrels and the weather and that he needed them to last five years. “Given the cost of tree planting we can’t afford not to use tree guards,” he said, “The consumer must drive any change forward.”
The pupils hope that in the third phase of the project they can lobby the Government to change the law and ban the use of plastic tree guards (or at least make their removal after use obligatory). “Help us to make our campaign bigger so the Government will change the law to prevent plastic tree guards. Plastic is the disease, we are the cure! Now is the time! Plant trees not plastic!”
Nicky Hume from Reforest Scotland told the pupils, “I’m so impressed. Let’s get the Government interested, make a video, write a blog. Lots of people are trying to solve this problem. It’s an exciting time and there’s lots of stuff happening. If there’s anything we can do to help just let me know.”
Anne Henshaw from CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) also pledged her support.
Local landowner, Tim Eliot-Cohen of Hilldrop Farm, commented, “This is a most admirable campaign and a really exceptional effort by you guys. It’s very, very impressive and quite brave.”
Marlborough.news will be reporting on the progress of the campaign.