After the holidays, trees help restore wetlands in New Orleans » Yale Climate Connections


A Christmas tree may be decorated with ornaments and lights for just a few weeks, but its useful life does not need to end when January arrives.

In New Orleans and other coastal areas, some brown, dried-out Christmas trees are given a new purpose as part of wetland restoration projects.

Johnson: “It’s just a good overall thing to do with those trees once people are finished with the Christmas season.”

Arthur Johnson is with the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, a nonprofit in the Lower Ninth Ward. Last year, the group partnered with other community organizations to collect about 200 trees from residents.

Johnson: “We were pleasantly surprised about how many trees we got in locally, how many people were excited to participate.”

The trees were placed in the bayou that borders the Lower Ninth Ward. It’s an area threatened by land loss, flooding, and intensifying storms.

The trees create a barrier to protect marsh grasses planted along the shore. And the tangled branches capture sediment, which helps slow erosion.

Johnson says the groups are collecting trees again this year, and he hopes to see the project grow.

Johnson: “It’s fun, it’s exciting, but it also means that the community is interested in its environmental well-being.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media


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