A new report has been released, highlighting the environmental impact of “real” Christmas trees during the festive season. The study was conducted by Fintan Riordan, the owner of Cork Christmas Trees, who has been growing trees for over three decades. Riordan, who is a member of various environmental associations including the Carbon Credit Group in Ireland, the Organic Farming Association, and the Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association (ICTG), used his 360 acres of forestry and over 30 acres of Christmas trees as a case study for his carbon offset calculations.
The Cork Christmas Trees Carbon Offset Report reveals that trees have the ability to sequester and store carbon dioxide (CO2) in their stems and roots. According to calculations specific to Ireland, one hectare of 30-year-old forestry can sequester a total of 20 tonnes of CO2 annually. With 360 acres of mature forestry, primarily consisting of spruce, Cork Christmas Trees is estimated to sequester around 2,900 tonnes of carbon each year. The report further claims that over a span of 30 years, this plantation of 145 hectares will sequester 600 tonnes of CO2 per hectare, amounting to a total of 87,000 tonnes of CO2.
The plantation also includes 35 acres of Christmas trees, mainly Nordmann and Noble Fir, which are considerably smaller than the mature forestry and range in size from 2 to 30 feet. Riordan states that these festive trees sequester a total of 92 tonnes of CO2 annually. Over a period of 30 years, the report suggests that a total of 2,772 tonnes of CO2 is sequestered through this rotational crop. Additionally, once the trees are cut, the stumps and roots are left in the ground, contributing to further carbon storage.
Riordan is committed to reforestation and ensures that for every tree harvested for the Christmas market, two new trees are planted. The report also highlights the “unique” approach taken to Christmas tree production on the site. The presence of 1,000 meters of ditches surrounding the crop provides an additional 2.95 tonnes of carbon storage, while a total of 4,600 meters of ditches surrounding the entire plantation account for an extra 13.57 tonnes of carbon storage. The trees are also surrounded by grass grazed by Shropshire sheep, which aids in improving the organic matter and structure of the soil. Riordan further emphasizes that the land is not ploughed to prevent the release of carbon from the soil, and the trees themselves help to prevent flooding.
The report concludes by highlighting the long-lasting carbon storage potential of Christmas trees. Even after being cut, the trees continue to store carbon. This is also true for commercial timber. Once a Christmas tree has served its purpose, it can be recycled into mulch, which can then be stored in the ground, further contributing to carbon storage and environmental sustainability.
In conclusion, the Cork Christmas Trees Carbon Offset Report presents valuable insights into the environmental impact of “real” Christmas trees. The study conducted by Fintan Riordan demonstrates the significant carbon sequestration capabilities of trees, both in mature forestry and in the context of Christmas tree production. With a commitment to reforestation and sustainable practices, Cork Christmas Trees sets an example for the industry, showcasing the potential for Christmas trees to contribute to carbon offsetting and environmental conservation.