"How Christmas Tree Farms Can Help Wildlife"

"It may seem counterintuitive to support the annual culling of trees, but environmentalists say Christmas tree farms have ecological benefits."

"A few years after the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests started a Christmas tree farm, Nigel Manley, who oversaw the operations, began noticing some interesting developments among the rows of fragrant balsam and Fraser firs lining the land.

In the spring, areas around the younger trees drew ground nesters like bobolinks — songbirds that migrate to and from South America — killdeer and woodcocks, who availed themselves of the open spaces to perform their courtship flights and rear their young. Deer hid their fawns in long grasses. Waxwings and robins nested in older trees, their young fledging many months before harvest. Mice and voles living on the land drew foxes and migratory raptors such as kestrels and harriers, who feasted on the cornucopia each time the grass was mowed.

In these climatically perilous times, when the cooling and oxygenating properties of trees have never been more valued, it seems counterintuitive to support chopping them down. Yet, the ecological benefits of real Christmas trees are why many environmentalists endorse them over the fake, petroleum-based versions that are shipped from half a world away.

Christmas tree farms can function much like young forests, said Andy Finton, a forest ecologist with the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. Two to three saplings are generally planted for every tree harvested, and, according to Jill Sidebottom, a spokeswoman for the National Christmas Tree Association, Christmas tree farms are often cultivated on otherwise unused farmland, allowing growers to keep their green spaces."

Cara Buckley reports for the New York Times December 13, 2023.

Source: NYTimes, 12/15/2023