Everyone liked a christmas tree. It should have shiny needles, smell good and last a long time. Consumers have certain expectations of their christmas trees. But are christmas tree cultures environmentally friendly?
"Our christmas tree cultures are ecologically valuable", claim dieter rippel and wilhelm bebler. More than 30 years ago, they joined forces for the production and trade of christmas trees. Their crops are ecological niches and important habitat for many animal and plant species. The company’s owners made this clear to an expert group of visitors who took a look at the company’s premises in oberalbach, germany.
For information, the entrepreneurs had provided a kind of educational trail. As if everything had to be put to the test, there were surprises along the way. An unbelievable colonization of fly agaric fungi for example. But also a lot of oak saplings. "Although there is no oak tree in the wide area", as forester gerhard hofmann from wachenroth explained. The forester confirms that nature benefits from christmas tree cultivation. The increasingly rare skylark appreciates the clear countryside. "Even the hoopoe, which we lost in the wiesengrund, can be found here."
"Interesting habitats are formed there", explained dieter rippel. Because the "permanent agricultural crops" are the, so the technical name, have a service life of eight to ten years. During this time, the soil remains untreated, so it is not turned over. The farm cultivates around 250 hectares of arable land within a radius of about 20 kilometers. Twenty percent of the flat, or 50 hectares, are tramlines. "We are making these tramlines available to nature", says rippel. Lowenzahn, corn poppies, cornflowers and a wide variety of herbs and grasses, which are of great use to insects and many small animals, grew there.
Retreat and breeding ground
Since the soil was not mechanically tilled for a long time, ants and soil insects were able to thrive. Songbirds and meadow breeders used the crops as a retreat, breeding ground and food source. Even snakes and lizards found optimal living conditions. Birds of prey are welcome guests. "There are many mice sitting in the crops and the birds of prey have a good food supply."
Anneliese goller, county, district and bavarian state farmer, sees trees in times of climate protection discussions as "a pound to grow with". Each tree binds CO2 . Not to mention the short transport distances as a further argument for climate protection. This is also important to the company owners: "quality from the steigerwald" is its seal of approval for christmas trees produced in the region. No other tree that has to be transported from far away is as fresh as this one. "The birds were whistling at it the day before yesterday", says wilhelm bebler.
The trees could be said much later, were therefore fresh for a long time. Growing in the region also keeps the value creation in the region. And they have secured jobs. Eight full-time employees work in the company. Up to a hundred people are employed during the season. Around 150,000 christmas trees are sold every season. Important mainstays are also potted plants and tied fir branches. Every year about 20 hectares of flat are replanted. In 2018, however, no new plantings could be made because of the drought. Good news for consumers: the prices of the trees will nevertheless remain stable, it was signaled.
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