TALLINN - The Christmas tree, real or artificial, is a tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas. It’s hard to imagine Christmas without having a Christmas tree in your home. The debate about the environmental impact of artificial trees is ongoing. Generally, natural tree growers contend that artificial trees are more environmentally harmful than their natural counterpart.
Every year millions of families shop for and buy a ‘real’ cut Christmas trees from Christmas tree farms and local lots, which make buying a Christmas tree as trouble-free and simple as possible.
This year will not be an exception, when Estonian State Forest Management Center (RMK) is organizing guided Christmas tree trips to the state forests. Christmas-tree gurus will have a chance to select their own Christmas tree, chop it down, and bring it home from the forest on their own.
Guided forest trips are being organized at 15 locations across Estonia through the end of December, with a brief program on nature education preceding entry into the forest. Christmas tree trips for businesses were launched from Dec. 14-16, but trips for private individuals started on Dec. 17 and will last till Dec. 24.
According to RMK, suitable locations for finding a Christmas tree have been pre-selected by RMK’s specialists, so that participants will be left with just the joy of paying, choosing the right tree, sawing it down and hauling it off.
Last year, RMK sold approximately 5,000 Christmas trees from the state forests, and 2,100 people participated in Christmas tree trips. “For many families and company staff, going on a Christmas tree trip together has become a nice tradition,” Marge Rammo, head of RMK’s Nature Preservation Department, affirmed. “It is also a great pleasure to point out that no Christmas tree thefts were detected last year.”
In the state forests, Christmas trees may be cut down only where they stand no chance of growing large – on the edges of roads and ditches, under overhead power lines and in firebreaks. Harvesting Christmas trees from young-growth forests or forest plantations, planted by man or intended to supply trees in the future, is an unwarranted infringement on the interests of the forest owner, an offense punishable under law.
According to Rammo, prices on spruces 1-3 meters tall range from 50 to 200 kroons (3 – 13 euros) and anyone coming on a Christmas tree trip has to have his/her own saw. Rammo considers that going to the forest before Christmas and choosing a suitable tree is a pleasure on its own, making the holidays more special as well. “With the spruce trips, we wish to revive the old family-centered tradition of finding a Christmas tree together in a forest,” said Rammo. “But as our programs are very popular, especially around cities, and we cannot accept all interested people, we decided to offer the chance of finding a Christmas tree on one’s own as well,” Rammo added.
“Christmas trees may be cut in state forests from ditches, from forest section lines and from underneath power lines, where they have no possibility of growing to maturity. In organizing the spruce trips, RMK is providing locations from where everyone can cut down a Christmas tree on their own. RMK does not sell Christmas trees that have been previously cut from nature centers nor does it organize the transporting of the spruce trees. These supervised spruce trips are organized for both private persons and working collectives,” Rammo noted. “One can also bring a Christmas tree home from the forest on his own. This option is recommended only for those who are sure that the location selected in a state forest is suitable.”