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Ontario Forestry Association supports real Christmas trees this season

Wednesday, October 31st 2007 12:54:06pm

Media Release - Attention Editors

Real Christmas trees are the environmentally friendly choice

(October 30, 2007)  The winter season is around the corner and Canadians will soon begin searching their basements, garages and sheds for Christmas decorations.

Yet, when it comes to the most important decoration - the Christmas tree - homeowners often don't consider the benefits of choosing a real tree.

Carla Grant, Executive Director of the Ontario Forestry Association, explains why real trees are better than artificial trees, and offers some excellent tips for finding that perfect tree.

"Christmas trees are grown on farms specifically for the holiday, and while growing, they take carbon dioxide out of the air, provide wildlife habitat and provide soil and water retention," says Ms. Grant. "Real Christmas trees are also grown locally and are 100 per cent biodegradable, unlike artificial trees, which are often transported halfway around the world and are made from a non-biodegradable petroleum based product that requires a lot of energy during the manufacturing process."

Ms. Grant explains how to select a pre-cut Christmas tree: "First, brush your hand across the needles. The fewer needles that come off, the fresher the tree. Next, make sure there is sap coming out of the cut on the trunk. This is another indication of freshness."

"And when cutting the tree yourself," says Ms. Grant, "look for a straight trunk with few gaps in the branches."

Once you get the tree home, there are certain things you can do to ensure your Christmas tree stays fresh throughout the holiday season. "It is essential to cut a couple of centimetres off the bottom of the trunk to provide a clean surface for the tree to take up water. If a clean surface is not created, the tree will not take up water," explains Ms. Grant. "It is also vital that the tree is watered every day and kept away from any heat sources to avoid drying it out."

As you prepare for the upcoming holiday season, nothing compares to the smell of a real tree in the home!

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To arrange interviews, or for more information about real Christmas trees contact:

Carla Grant, Executive Director, Ontario Forestry Association, 416-493-4565, cell 416-435-2349, carlag@oforest.on.ca

Jonathan Laderoute, e|c|o, 416-972-7401, laderoutej@huffstrategy.com

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 .


BACKGROUNDER

2007 Ontario Forestry Association Christmas tree fact sheet

Real Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly than artificial trees:

    *Christmas 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, and soil and water retention.
    * Christmas tree plantations act as carbon dioxide sinks.
       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.
       Recently, a pharmaceutical company in Ontario began
       processing needles to extract an ingredient for use in a flu
       vaccine.
    * In comparison, artificial trees are non-biodegradable and
       their manufacturing process requires large amounts of
       fossil fuels.
    * The transportation of artificial trees halfway around the
       world 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 does not have brown needles.
    * 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 trunk. 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 per cent through the Managed Forest Tax
       Incentive Program (MFTIP). Growing Christmas trees may
       be part of your managed forest plan under MFTIP. See
       www.oforest.on.ca for more information.

Caring for your cut tree:

    * With a saw, remove a two 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 per cent 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.

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