We’d like to bring a ‘real’ tree into our home during Christmas. It has a lovely scent and it revives our connection to nature. But the struggle is that it’s still a real tree and we worry more and more about cutting down trees and the potential environmental damage.
However, these trees are grown on Christmas tree farms and grow for 5 to 15 (or more!) years (depending on size). In other words, they are not part of a natural system but rather they are like a farm crop.. they just happen to be trees. What is important is that, as city dwellers, we retain our connection to real trees, and a Christmas tree is of great value in fostering this connection. Selecting a Christmas tree is also an emotional part of our experience that we look forward to each year.
There are other benefits. While the trees are growing in their ‘plantation’, the soil is undisturbed and therefore able to rejuvenate because it is not being cultivated. As well, these trees are frequently grown in areas that are marginal croplands, i.e. not typical farmland. The trees are very good at preventing erosion, and during their lives act as a young forest providing benefits such as cooling the land and air and providing a habitat for wildlife.
Since they are selectively removed (based on their quality/marketability), the ‘woodland’ remains intact and is selectively replanted the following year, which is similar to a natural succession system as found in a natural forest where the older trees help to care for the younger trees.
Once the trees have provided for our seasonal needs and desires, they are easily recyclable, unlike artificial trees (which are often replaced every 8-10 years).
It is of particular importance for city children to have a real Christmas tree so they will have an experience of a tree living with them for 2-3 weeks and to know that the tree won’t live much longer without its root system and soil.