PEFC Certified Christmas Tree to Light St. Peter's SquareDec 10 2009
As is tradition at the Vatican, a Christmas tree arrived last Friday in Rome and will take pride of place in St. Peter's Square. The tree comes from the a PEFC certified forest from the Walloon Region of Belgium.
PEFC Italy is offsetting the CO2 emissions from transporting and lighting the tree, and so this year, at the official ceremony, as the lights are turned on, Pope Benedict XVI will receive an environmentally friendly Christmas gift.
The offering of a Christmas Tree to the Pope started in 1982. The first tree came from Poland, Pope John-Paul II's country of origin. A lumberjack decided to deliver a giant tree to the Vatican on his tractor.
Since then, a nativity scene and gigantic Christmas tree can be seen annually in St. Peter's Square. After all these years, the giving of the Christmas Tree has become an honour, and this year that honour belongs to the Belgians.
The tree was found in a PEFC certified, sustainably managed forest in Spa. It is a Norway Spruce and with a height of 30 metres, a trunk circumference of 2.65 metres, and branches at the bottom that spread out 8 metres. It weighs a massive 14 tonnes.
PEFC Italy will offset the CO2 emissions caused by the transport and subsequent lighting of the tree with a specific type of forestry work that will reinvigorate forests and lead to a positive net sequestration of CO2.
Last year, after the tree was taken down, its wood was used to make children's toys.
Currently, 281,000 hectares of Walloonian forests are certified to PEFC criteria. This represents 48% of the total Walloon forest area.