O Tannenbaum! Christmas Trees and Climate Change


Thanks to Char Miller for this piece on Christmas trees (and history). As usual, worth reading in its entirety. Just a tiny excerpt below, link here.

We’ll also better understand the larger implications of our consumption in this troubling era of climate change. Lowenstein argues, for example, that because real Christmas trees are rooted in the soil they are able to sequester carbon. Even when harvested, and only 10% of them are cut a year, this essential air-cleaning process of absorption is maintained. Moreover, growers immediately replant, often at a ratio of two or three for ever one tree cut down, allowing this industry, with more than 400 million trees in the ground, to operate on a sustainable, Earth-affirming basis.

Of course, people could go cut their trees on the national forests. Except for the Angeles, which I can understand. I wonder how many NF’s don’t allow Christmas tree cutting?

And in case this isn’t enough on the topic of Christmas trees for you.. here is another story..
“Real Christmas trees more sustainable than fakes, forestry professor says”. Thanks to Craig Rawlings of Forest Business Network for this link.

8 thoughts on “O Tannenbaum! Christmas Trees and Climate Change”

  1. Some Sierra Nevada National Forests do not allow Christmas trees to be cut, as it interferes with the many local Christmas tree farms. I do know that the Plumas does allow it, as I found some nice silvertips to fill my permits with. I’m hoping that the “Charley Brown Xmas Tree” will become popular, to help thin out fuels *smirk*

    • When I lived closer to national forests, I had a soft spot in my heart for lodgepoles, because they grew in clumps and obviously need thinning. But I based purchases on smell, so always prefer a true fir in that case. Are some forest foundling, lodgepole Christmas trees, Charley-Brown-esque? Well, yes. And that is so OK.

    • Great stats to offer some perspective here. In 2008, when the Capitol X-mas tree came from the Bitterroot National Forest, the cost was estimated at $400,000. There was much talk locally about just how many USFS employees were on the X-mas Tree detail. Here’s a snip from an article back in 2008:

      “The Montana effort included 18 months of pre-planning, the selection of one subalpine fir from the Sapphire Mountains….a 50 member core planning team headed up by U.S. Forest Service staff, 40 business sponsors and a 4,280-mile one-way trip/tour to deliver the tree to Washington, D.C.”

  2. I think that would be a great feature story for some writer next year, following the Capitol Christmas tree from its point of deciding that that will be the tree to the lighting… is it too much money? What do people actually do along the way? What is the cost of a smile? should someone litigate because federal bucks are going to Christmas trees, which bespeaks a preference for Christian and northern European earth religions?

    Here’s the history channel history of Christmas trees…

  3. I bagged and tagged my FS Christmas tree this year, a family tradition, i don’t think we’ve ever had a tree that we didn’t cut ourselves. This year I had to hunt a little harder as they did fuels reductions next to town and took out most of the small grand fir. They probably should have left a few areas for x-mas trees harvest. Plus the spruce bud worm has defoliated many of the firs. I still found a nice fir but had to travel a bit further than usual.


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