Over a thousand discarded Christmas trees were dumped into the Baltic Sea near Stockholm, and they are now serving an environmental purpose.
Every January, a significant number of Christmas trees, possibly in the hundreds of thousands, end up in landfills. However, in 2016, the officials of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, introduced an innovative and eco-friendly idea to minimise biowaste.
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Swedish Christmas trees create habitats for fish in the Baltic Sea
Dozens of Christmas trees collected after Christmas are thrown into the waters around Stockholm on a cold January morning. This initiative was launched by the national sport fishing association, Sportfiskarna, in 2016 to support an endangered ecosystem.
The trees are recycled to provide a friendly habitat for the marine ecosystem, and more than a thousand trees have already been sunk in selected locations around Stockholm. Before the trees are dumped from boats into the waters off the Hammarby Sjostad industrial zone, candles and ornaments are replaced with heavy stones. All the trees come from retailers who do not use pesticides in growing them.
Malin Kjellin, who runs the project on behalf of the Sportfiskarna association, spoke to afp.com about its details. "Around here, there's been a lot of construction, a lot of boats going in and out. There's not a lot of vegetation and these are really important habitats for fish to spawn that have disappeared," she explained.
Kjellin stated that sunken trees provide ample hiding places for small marine organisms. "These are really great places to lay the roe and also for juvenile fish to hide from bigger ones," she explained.
Fighting harmful algae in the Baltic Sea
Yvonne Blomback from the Swedish branch of the WWF praised the initiative on afp.com. "We have seen that it’s really functioning," she said. "These fish are very important for the ecosystem in the Baltic Sea. They are part of a food chain which helps to keep the algae under control," Blomback added.
"Over-fertilisation that benefits algae is a problem in the whole of the Baltic Sea, caused by spills from human activities, where farming is the largest source. Since the 19th century, many of the coastal wetlands have been turned into farmland. The wetlands close to the coast were very important habitats for the fish, so the fish have had huge problems to survive," Blomback told AFP.
AFP also spoke to Camilla Hallstrom, a 63-year-old resident of Stockholm.
"Here in Sweden, you give the Christmas tree a personality, you choose it very carefully, you take it in, and you live with it," the woman said as she dumped her small spruce tree at a collection point for the recycling project. "It's super to find environmentally friendly solutions to reuse it!" she added.