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Nature conservation project : Christmas trees delivered by bike

Nature conservation project : Christmas trees delivered by bike

The „Crazy Christmas Trees“ conservation project: volunteers deliver 260 trees by Monday.

"In these difficult times, the Christmas tree is something very special for me," says Ulrike Heimsath. Together with her husband Thomas, she has accepted a small pine tree as a Christmas tree. While she is clearly moved talking about the burden of recent times, her husband manages to bring a little cheer to the occasion despite the patchy growth of the tree. To the truck driver Klemens Wildt he says: “Every tree deserves a home, no matter what it looks like.”

The ‘Crazy Christmas tree’ initiative by the Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology Association (NaLa) is wonderful, adds Heimsath, because it includes all trees, regardless of how they have grown and where they have come from. Shortly beforehand, Wildt had loaded the tree - which will now be celebrating Christmas in Duisdorfer Ober­dorf - onto the motorised trailer on his bicycle in Endenich. On Saturday with eight other volunteers and just as many cargo bikes, he began to deliver the 260 pre-ordered Christmas trees. They should all be with their new owners by Monday.

Now in the 40th year of the campaign, the helpers were not able to sell the trees on site in Poppelsdorf as usual due to the current situation. "The selection process was always a lot of fun," says Simon Keelan from NaLa. He has been one of the event organisers for ten years. The agricultural scientist belongs to a group of former students who are continuing the work of their distinguished professor Wolfgang Schumacher., Schumacher's idea was to restore species-rich meadows with high conservation value which were not sufficiently cared for by removing the Christmas trees. Wherever woody plants grow, they were to be removed to make room for the typical meadow plants. Kelan explains, “the aim was to bring these areas back into long-term care by mowing or clearing them.”

If these meadows are not mowed, trees will grow, and in the long run a forest will develop, Keelan summarises, which is why two teams of around 20 people set out to bring the ‘Crazy Christmas trees’ to Bonn over the past few days. “In the meantime, we are also promoting forest conversion,” says the nature conservationist. “We are now going into areas where young spruce and pine trees are growing, so that mixed deciduous forests can develop there again. This year, the pines were taken from a very species-rich limestone quarry near Bad Münster-Eifel as part of a nature conservation campaign, and the spruces were taken from a meadow in the Eifel Urft valley.”

While the most popular Christmas tree in Germany is the Nordmann fir, which grows evenly and usually comes from plantations, and whose soft needles no longer stab your fingers when decorating the tree, the ‘crazy’ NaLa spruces are prickly. "The pine trees are also something very special," says Keelan. They don't look like typical Christmas trees. "They are a lighter green and smell wonderful," says Keelan, "and if you are lucky, there also have cones on them that start to crack open in the warmth.”

Whereas in previous years, around five to seven hundred trees were sold in Bonn, often collecting more than 10,000 euros in donations, this year the trees could only be ordered online and not be inspected beforehand.

The complete CO2-neutral and corona-compliant delivery of the trees is carried out by volunteers from the Bolle cargo bike working group, a project of the associations Solidarische Landwirtschaft (Solidarity Farming) and Bonn-im-Wandel (Bonn in Change). "Through our help, we want to contribute to encouraging a modern mobility concept," says Rafael Holland from Bolle in Bonn. Due to the association’s successful chocolate and wine tours, in which chocolate from Amsterdam and wine from the Ahr are picked up by cargo bikes, Holland is convinced that there is “a lot of potential in Bonn” for the idea of transport using the environmentally friendly cargo bike.

The cargo bikes and trailers can be borrowed free of charge. Bolle (www.bolle-bonn.de) can also help you build your own bike. They are pleased when the bikes are made available to the general public, says Holland.

The Bonn-im-Wandel association, which supports Bolle, will also benefit from a quarter of the Christmas tree donations. Twenty-five per cent of the proceeds will each go to the Bonn food bank, to a nature conservation project in Romania and to the source of the trees in the Eifel, where the donations will be used to support local associations.

(Original text: Stefan Hermes, Translation: Caroline Kusch)