After over a year of field trials and a soft launch last year, Nelson-based conservation and ecology company FuturEcology is showcasing its EmGuard biodegradable plant guards.
FuturEcology, which specialises in restoration and riparian work, developed the guards to help reduce the amount of plastic being used near waterways.
Manufactured in this country, the guards are based on recycled cardboard pulp and coated in a food-safe FDA-compliant moisture barrier. They are designed to withstand periodic inundation and cope well in windy situations. FuturEcology’s Jan and Robert Fryer say the guards are easy to handle and install, each requiring only one bamboo stake.
Jan and Robert were prompted to develop the product as they had often had to retrieve plastic plant guards following wind and flood events.
So far, the EmGuards have been used by councils from the Waikato, Taupo, Hawkes Bay, Nelson, Tasman, Christchurch and Ashburton, and by conservation groups and private landowners.
The largest installation has been at an old Tasman District Council wastewater treatment site in Motueka where pukekos were pulling out new plants. Twenty-three thousand EmGuards were used in the initial planting at the windy, sandy site near the coast where it had been hard to establish plants and the risk of plastic getting into the coastal environment had been very high.
This article was first published in the February 2019 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.