Get a real tree, save the planet

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - richard@glen­gar­ -- Richard Ma­honey

This is in­deed coun­ter­in­tu­itive, but ev­i­dently, tree har­vest­ing can ac­tu­ally be good for us and our planet. There is method in this ap­par­ent mad­ness that is be­ing es­poused by Forests On­tario, which is “the voice for our forests.”

While farm­ers see trees as be­ing ob­sta­cles to ef­fi­cient crop pro­duc­tion, oth­ers view ar­bori­cul­ture as a vi­able in­dus­try.

Buy­ing a nat­u­ral Christ­mas tree is a win-win – it is an op­por­tu­nity to bring the beauty and aroma of the great out­doors in­side dur­ing the hol­i­day and sup­port On­tario tree farm­ers and the pro­vin­cial econ­omy.

“Ar­ti­fi­cial trees can be con­ve­nient, de­spite stor­age chal­lenges,” con­cedes Forests On­tario. “How­ever, the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and car­bon foot­print of pro­duc­ing, pack­ag­ing, and trans­port­ing a plas­tic tree across the world are in­con­ve­nient truths. And eth­i­cal reasons aside, you just can’t beat the pine-fresh scent and beauty of a real tree!”

Choos­ing a real, lo­cally-sourced tree sup­ports the tree farms, which pro­vide em­ploy­ment and in­come for fam­i­lies. More than 500 farm­ers pro­duce up­wards of one mil­lion Christ­mas trees each year in On­tario.

Christ­mas tree farms are also car­bon sinks, soak­ing up car­bon diox­ide emit­ted by cars, planes, and homes and in turn pro­duc­ing life-giv­ing oxy­gen.

One acre of planted Christ­mas trees can pro­duce enough oxy­gen for 18 peo­ple daily. Real trees are 100 per cent biodegrada­ble, mean­ing that when dis­posed of prop­erly, they may be re­cy­cled into mulch for parks, habitat for fish and wildlife, or even ma­te­ri­als for crafts. Real ev­er­greens give back to the en­vi­ron­ment long af­ter the hol­i­day sea­son.

“On­tario’s well-man­aged forests pro­vide us with a host of so­cial, eco­nomic, and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits. So, this hol­i­day sea­son, give back to our en­vi­ron­ment and choose a real tree,” says Forests On­tario.

It is some­what re­fresh­ing to con­sider that Yule­tide tra­di­tions con­tinue to cen­tre around the simple ever­green, a sym­bol of pu­rity, when it is not smoth­ered in dec­o­ra­tions. Even a pa­thetic “Char­lie Brown” twig has a cer­tain charm. Trees are in­deed the gifts that keep on giv­ing, through shade, in­creased prop­erty value, po­ten­tial prop­erty tax breaks, more di­verse wildlife, pro­tec­tion from the wind, and even­tu­ally, fire­wood.

But, when it comes to Great Gift Ideas, this is one of those items you would rather re­ceive than give.

Although they are lovely, full-sized ev­er­greens are dif­fi­cult to wrap, be­cause the sharp nee­dles cut through the pa­per and you need a kilo­me­tre of tape and pa­per to cover the un­wieldy things. Plus, it is hard to tuck a huge tree un­der a Christ­mas tree and there is zero sur­prise fac­tor.

How­ever, if you are look­ing for a stock­ing stuffer for that per­son who has ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing, con­sider giv­ing a sapling, fes­tooned with a com­postable bow.

Or, if you are lit­tle handy with a shovel and are pa­tient, you could plant and nur­ture your own trees.

For large-scale plant­ing, trees can be or­dered through the Raisin Re­gion and South Na­tion con­ser­va­tion au­thor­i­ties.

Come spring, you will be chomp­ing at the bit, ea­ger to break ground and plant.

This will be your gift to Mother Earth, a ges­ture that is bound to cre­ate wide­spread, long-last­ing warm and fuzzy sen­ti­ments.

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