We have just heard that the contractor is planning to start planting trees on Thursday 20th April.
Since there have been concerns expressed by some in the community over the use of the weedkiller, Roundup, we would like to hear what you think before planting starts.
Some of you have asked for more detail on the reasons behind the decision taken by the Trustees, so we have outlined these below – and also in a fuller summary which is attached if you want to read more.
We would welcome any further comments if you would like to send them to us at <email@example.com>, if possible before the end of Monday 17th April, to let us know whether or not you support this decision with a short explanation for your reasons.
The trustees did not come to the decision to use herbicide easily.
We did a lot of research trying to come up with alternative options, both manual and organic. After much time spent we had to come to the conclusion that none of them were viable for the SEAchange field.
Do say if you know of one which we haven’t found yet.
When we bought this field for community use, one of the conditions of purchase was that we follow professional advice in our care of the land and the trees.
We have been advised by four different professional experts that we need to use this light application of Roundup, to give the trees the best chance to thrive.
Roundup is used in parks and playparks, close to water courses and even on food crops seven days before harvesting. It can be bought over the counter for use in gardens.
We have received £48,000 of public funding to establish a community woodland, planting 15,400 trees, and we feel we would not be exercising due diligence as trustees if we didn’t give the trees the best possible chance to survive in this very exposed and windblown site.
The contractor who will be planting the woodland uses an application of herbicide at 25% of the concentration recommended for use in public spaces, targetted around the base of each sapling, as part of his routine planting process.
We consulted widely with experts to find out whether there were other methods which we could use to keep the trees free of weeds in their first two years, but disappointingly none of these alternatives were viable in this situation.
Below is a list of some of the suggestions we explored in detail:
- Mulch mats – too expensive and might blow away unless pegged down in each corner, which would use more than 61,000 pegs.
- Mats can harbour voles, which then chew the bark potentially killing the tree.
- Bark in woodchip can contain toxins which damage trees, and chips also “steal” nitrogen.
- Woodchip, plastic or mulch-mats could blow into neighbouring fields.
- Mats, woodchip and weeding were all considered to involve an unrealistic amount of work for volunteers to be able to achieve.
- Manual weeding of the field would take an estimated 40 people 6 full days of work, and would need to be ongoing – more than once a year – for several years.
- Mowing or strimming would not be effective as roots would remain and continue to compete with the trees. In addition the roots are stimulated to further growth by cutting. There is a risk of accidentally damaging the trees while strimming.
- Carbon emissions from strimming or mowing are also a factor to take into account.
- Salt or acid based herbicides degrade the soil killing plant and invertebrate life over a very long time period.
- Experienced tree planters have explained that the “rounding” method if used in clay soil would bake hard forming a clay “boulder” easily killing the tree roots.
- One aspect of our project is learning together how to care for the environment, with relevant lifestyle choices.
We have learnt in making this decision that choices are not simple – they involve complex issues which have to be balanced.
In this process we prioritised the positive impact of a thriving woodland, which will benefit the community, bio-diversity and carbon capture.
However, we would welcome further comments and opinions that impact this decision.