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Earth Today | Potted Christmas tree purchases increase

Published:Wednesday | December 20, 2017 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
A participant at last Sunday's 'Christmas Breeze' event hosted by the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) decorates a Christmas tree, which is firmly rooted in the ground at Holywell. The decoration of Christmas trees was a feature of the JCDT's event, which was a hit with children and adults alike.

JAMAICANS are giving the environment a hand with the increased demand for, and purchase of, potted Christmas trees this season.

"The potted Christmas trees have sold out; they are taking on. We had persons from as far as Trelawny coming for trees," said Jerome Smith, principal director of forest operations at the Forestry Department.

"We are finding we are getting less requests for the cut trees and more requests for the potted trees. One lady came after the potted trees were sold out and we had one we did not want to sell because it had some growth challenges, but the lady said she wanted it," he added.

The sale of the potted trees is not only good for the coffers of the Forestry Department, but also for the pockets of Jamaicans - and, too, is great for the environment.

The Christmas trees, known scientifically as Cupressus lusitanica, went for between $1,000 for those planted in six-inch pots to $3,500 for those in 12-inch pots.

"It is a habitat for various organisms, and not only does it provide a habitat but the roots are very fibrous, which help to retain the soil. We consider these Christmas trees a vital part of our forest ecosystem, and if we can find ways to preserve and reduce impact on the loss by cutting down or removal, they can provide the function we need without having to be destroyed or killed," Smith explained.

"Christmas is a seasonal thing. By January, 90 per cent of these trees (not potted) will be tossed out. So if we can work out a system where they can be maintained, we not only preserve the forest, but it will enhance the experience we have of the tree itself. People talk about the smell of the Christmas tree, and if you keep it alive, you actually maintain those properties, both the aesthetic and the aroma," he added.

The sale of Christmas trees aside, the Forestry Department has also seen an increase in demand for some of its other offerings, not the least of these the palm.

"We now sell potted palms. We also do rental of palms for an event. So if you are doing an event over Christmas, you can approach the Forest Department for the palms," Smith revealed.

Already, they have rented some 150 and sold more than 100.

"I wouldn't say business is booming but we are increasing our diversity of our offerings to match the demand we have out there," Smith said.