Endenich · Some are a bit crooked or lopsided, but they are all sustainable and for a good cause: The Christmas trees that the Faculty of Agriculture is distributing in Endenich again this year are unusual in many respects. What is the idea behind the initiative?
The Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Bonn is offering around 500 sustainable Christmas trees from the Eifel region in return for a voluntary donation this weekend. "These are special trees: character trees, wall or corner trees, crooked ones or trees with double tops," says Simon Keenan. He is a member of the Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology Association (NaLa), and has been organizing the fundraiser since 2015; it has been around since 1980.
On Thursday, around 40 helpers met to cut down pine and spruce trees in the Eifel for the Christmas tree campaign. The trees have to be removed for nature conservation reasons. "The pines are in meadows or pastures where they displace species," Simon Keenan explained. "The spruces come from forests where conifers are supposed to make way for mixed deciduous forest.”
Mostly students help out, but the Bonn/Rhein-Erft Biological Station is also involved. The chain saws are operated by professionals, says Keenan. The students then haul the future Christmas trees through the forest, net them and load them onto a truck.
Buyers of the special Christmas trees can decide for themselves if and how much they want to donate for them. "It's important to us that maybe people who can't afford a tree can get one," Keenan says.
According to Keenan, the association has noticed that awareness of sustainable trees has grown in recent years in the form of increasing donations. Last year, the Christmas tree campaign brought in around 20,000 euros, which benefited flood victims, among others.
Donations divided between nature conservation and social projects
"Half always goes to conservation projects and the other half to social projects," Keenan says. Throughout the year, he says, the association takes in suggestions about where the donations could go. Some initiatives also apply for it. A vote is then taken at the general meeting to decide who should benefit from the project. This year, the money collected will go to the Bonner Tafel, the Familienkreis Bonn, the Lengsdorfer Bachfreunde and the Asociatia Mozaic from Romania.
For a donation, the Bonn-based initiative Bolle will transport the Christmas tree to your home by delivery bike. "We limit ourselves to Bonn," says Ulrich Buchholz of Bolle. Depending on the distance, it has to be negotiated as to whether the bike delivery service will work. "Far south to Bad Godesberg, for example, it will be difficult." The organization will be in action with four to six delivery bikes. There have been no limits on tree size and weight so far, according to Buchholz. "Last year, there were decidedly large trees," he says.
The Bonn/Rhein-Erft Biological Station will also be offering apple juice from local orchards, and honey from the beekeeping department of the University of Bonn as well as other regional products at a stand during this weekend's tree initiative.
The association will distribute the Christmas trees this Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Institute for Crop Sciences and Resource Conservation, Auf dem Hügel 6, in Endenich.