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2006 Christmas Tree Fact Sheet

Thursday, December 14th 2006 3:40:00pm

Ontario Forestry Association

Real Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly than artificial trees:

• Harvesting trees for holiday decorations is environmentally sound because the trees are raised for that purpose, often on marginal land that wouldn't support other types of agriculture.
• Trees provide environmental benefits such as wildlife habitat, soil and water retention.  
• Christmas tree plantations act as a carbon dioxide sink.  Each tree fixes carbon dioxide given off by cars and jets.
• One acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people daily.
• In Ontario, over 500 farmers produce more than one million Christmas trees each year.
• Real Christmas trees are 100 per cent biodegradable.  Trees mulched after Christmas are often used in municipal parks.
• In comparison, artificial trees are non-biodegradable, and their manufacturing process requires large amounts of fossil fuels.
• The manufacture of artificial trees occurs in countries that have very few, if any, environmental controls on emissions of noxious gasses.
• The transportation of artificial trees halfway around the world also adds significantly to the overall consumption of fossil fuels.

Choosing a real Christmas tree:

• The most common trees used during the holidays include pine, fir, and spruce.  Spruce tend to lose their needles first, and fir are somewhat slower.
• Upon deciding the type and size of Christmas tree, make sure your tree is fresh.  A freshly cut tree will last longer and its needles will stay on the branches, instead of your floor.  
• While checking the lot for a fresh tree, make sure that the trunk has some sap coming out of it.
• Look for a tree that is green, with no brown.
• The needles of pine and spruce should bend, and not break.  They should also be hard to pull off the branches.  
• Raise the tree just a few inches and drop it on the base of the bark.  Shake it a little if you can.  Few needles should drop off.  If they do, your tree may have been cut too long ago and has already dried out.

Growing your own Christmas tree:

• If you are lucky enough to own 10 or more acres of forested property, you may be eligible for a property tax reduction of up to 75% through the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP).  Growing Christmas trees may be part of your managed forest plan required under MFTIP.  See www.oforest.on.ca for more information.

Caring for your cut tree:

• With a saw, remove a 2 centimeter disk of wood from the bottom of the trunk, providing a clean cut that allows the tree to absorb water.
• Ensure that your tree has adequate water.
• Display your tree away from direct heat to maintaining moisture and the fresh look of the tree.  
• Some people add floral preservatives, aspirin and even honey to tree stand water, but there is no evidence that these provide any benefit.

Environmentally friendly decorations:

• Choose Seasonal LED lighting.  These festive lights use up to 90% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent seasonal lights.  Many local electricity utilities have promotions for discounts and trade-ins, encouraging people to switch to LEDs.  Check with your local utility.

The first Christmas tree:

• Devout Christians began using the Christmas tree symbol in the 16th century when they brought decorated trees into their homes.
• The first Christmas tree in Canada is reputed to have been in Sorel, Quebec in 1781.


To arrange interviews, for more information about the Ontario Christmas tree industry or private land forestry please contact Carla Grant, Executive Director of the Ontario Forestry Association, at 416-493-4565, cell 416-435-2349, carlag@oforest.on.ca, or Brent Kulba (ECO), 416-972-7401.

The Ontario Forestry Association is a non-profit, registered charity dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of Ontario's forests, and to developing stewardship of forest ecosystems. Visit www.oforest.on.ca.