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A family carrying their freshly cut tree , Source: Hoge Kempen National Park on Facebook

More than 200 people dug out their own Christmas tree in a Belgian national park

More than 200 people dug out their own Christmas tree in a Belgian national park

The campaign was launched by Hoge Kempen National Park in an effort to stop pines from re-foresting the protected lake sand dunes

Last Saturday, park authorities in Hoge Kempen National Park in Belgium launched a campaign where volunteers had the opportunity to dig out a Christmas tree and then take it home. The campaign was aimed at protecting the unique lake dunes and marshes in the park from invasive pine species.

As a result, more than 200 people went home with a fresh live Christmas tree, with some calling it the start of a new local tradition that respects both nature and the holiday season.

Christmas au naturel with a pinch of environmental protection

Hoge Kempen National Park is located in the eastern part of Belgium, close to the German border and near the city of Maasmechelen. It encompasses a lake with sand dunes, themselves surrounded by pine forests. One of the major challenges authorities face is keeping the forest from intruding and taking over the dunes.

Officials at the park advertised the campaign as a way to bring back nature and the lovely smell of pines back in Christmas decorations while helping out with nature management. Furthermore, children were encouraged to participate and families had the opportunity to make a day out of it.

Usually, the authorities at the park engage in nature maintenance year-round, with a lot of their volunteer help coming from schools and youth groups which ensure that young pines are pulled out. This effort is combined with helpful lessons about forest flora and nature management.

During this initiative, participants had to bring their own spades, gloves and waterproof clothing, however, they also took home a live pine tree. Though the species in the national park are not traditionally used as Christmas trees they should more than make up for that gap with a feeling of sustainability, cosiness and a great story.

Luc Flipkens, a representative of Hoge Kempen Nationa Park was quoted by the news site VRT, explaining that if the pines were not dug with their roots out, much of the work would be in vain. He continued by saying that a better way to deal with them, instead of just pulling them out and throwing them into the woodchopper is to make them a unique Christmas gift for the community.

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