When you toss your Christmas tree, aim for your backyard, conservation group asks

If you put up a real Christmas tree for the holidays, you're now faced with getting rid of it.

Consider helping smaller species survive the winter

The Nature Conservancy of Canada recommending putting your old Christmas tree in your backyard this year instead of throwing it. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

If you put up a real Christmas tree for the holidays, you're now faced with getting rid of it.

What was once a vibrant, bushy, tree guarding gifts will soon morph into a brown, depleted husk, shedding needles if you so much as look at it the wrong way. 

While many communities have tree pickup or mulching services to assist with disposal, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is urging another option.  

Just dump the tree in your backyard. 

"It can provide important habitats during these winter months for bird populations," said Andrew Holland, a spokesperson with the conservation group. 

Your Christmas tree could help smaller species survive the winter. 1:14

Holland said that for several small bird species that don't migrate, your old tree can be a haven for overnighting and for sheltering against heavy snow.

"Rather then see it go in the landfill, we encourage people to recycle it in the backyard because it's an important source of warmth for birds that don't migrate," said Holland, who said the discarded trees also serve as a food source for squirrels trying to get through the winter. 

And there are perks for us humans too.  

"It's beneficial for your lawn as well," Holland said. "Come spring, the needles on your Christmas tree will break down and ultimately help your soil. That moisture will be beneficial to your soil and your grass as well." 

Andrew Holland, spokesperson for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, says Christmas trees left in backyards help smaller species survive the winter. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Pollinators, such as honey bees and carpenter bees, can also gain food and shelter from unwanted Christmas trees if they're allowed to decompose over several months. 

"So it's a win-win and we call it a small act of backyard conservation," Holland said.

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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