Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield is trialling biodegradable tree shelters as part of efforts to be more environmentally sustainable.

Finchingfield-based business Vigilis Tree Shelters provided the estate with nearly 1,000 plastic-free biodegradable shelters for their latest agro-forestry project.

The estate is currently transforming 300 hectares of farmland into an 'alley-cropping' system by planting 10,000 nut and timber trees over a five-year period.

Lines of trees will be planted within arable and grazing fields to produce food products and timber for decades to come.

Between the lines of trees, grassland, herbal leys and wildlife mixes will be established to support biodiversity, build soil health, sequester carbon, trap and clean water and help mitigate drought.

The Vigilis-Bio tree shelters have been designed to have all the benefits of a traditional tree shelter, while being 100 per cent soil biodegradable. They are made from a special blend including potatoes, wood and corn, as well as a custom biodegradable polymer.


These shelters aim to create a micro-climate inside the shelter, accelerating growth of the young tree and advancing the first harvest.

Archie Ruggles-Brise, estate manager at Spains Hall, Estate said, "It’s great to have the opportunity to trial Vigilis’ biodegradable tree shelters on our new walnut and oak trees. The fact they are a local company is even better!

"It’s paramount that we use more sustainable products such as these on our estate as part of our nature-first approach to land management."

Vigilis-Bio tree shelters provide a minimum of five years of tree protection and following this, it may take a further two years to be fully absorbed and incorporated into the natural environment.

All that remains after this period is biomass, water and minerals that feed soil bacteria and microbes.

John Warner, CEO at Vigilis Tree Shelters, said, "We are delighted to be able to educate visitors to the estate about the benefits and functionality of biodegradable tree shelters and the importance of transitioning towards a plastic-free forestry industry.

"Visitors will be able to see the process of embrittlement, fragmentation and biodegradation of the tree shelters over a five-year period."