Christmas Trees Replace Forests as Crop of Choice

The origin presumably refers to the seedling planted and reared in Scandinavia. So formally, that part of the information is correct. But critics question the reference to sustainability. They fear that the pesticides used will damage other plants and that harvesting the forest ground will lead to erosion. They are also concerned that the fertilizer and pesticide could contaminate the groundwater. Traces of the controversial pesticide glyphosate have been found in six of 30 bodies of water in forests of the Sauerland region where the Environment Ministry took samples in 2012.

The state government wants to limit the growth of Christmas tree farms by following the example of four other German states where the planting of Christmas trees in woodland will in the future require official approval, as is already the case with farmland.

Opposition lawmaker Karlheinz Busen of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party fears that the government wants to "axe our centuries-old Christmas tree tradition." But the coalition is determined. "We will file our motion in January so that the change in the law can take effect in time for the next planting period," says Greens Party lawmaker Norwich RĂ¼sse.

Matthias Scheidt, the environmental campaigner, says it's high time something be done. He, his father and several friends formed a pressure group to fight the swift growth of the Christmas tree farming business in the area. Within the past five years, the Christmas tree farms in Bestwig have been expanded by 625 percent, the group estimates. Scheidt doesn't think the government's plan goes far enough: "We want the current farms to be reverted to forest."

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