A few weeks ago, your holiday tree was the bright and cheery focal point of your apartment, but now it is cumbersome and shedding once-fragrant pine needles everywhere. Our neighbors in New Jersey, however, have found a way to extend the significance of your now seemingly expired pine.

For the second time, New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park is collecting locals’ deteriorating trees to fortify the New Jersey coast. Their work rejuvenates aquatic ecosystems, protects the coast from degradation, and prevents dangerous flooding during storms. 

Beaches are struggling to maintain the stability of their habitats, especially in high-density areas like that of the New York tri-state. This ecological stress adversely affects the wildlife in the water, on the shore, and in nearby areas that are vulnerable to flooding. Protecting these animals’ habitats is essential to the human population: Such organisms generate the air we breathe, clean the water we drink, create the beaches we enjoy and the jobs we work. A degraded shoreline also heightens the risk of detrimental flooding to key coastal cities; reinvigorating coasts promotes ecological resilience and protects homes, schools, and workplaces. 

New Jersey’s answer to these ecological quandaries is Christmas trees! 

In the last month, the park has received more than 2,000 trees for their project. These trees will be stacked in areas where the beach’s sand dunes are being swept away. On land, the trees will be used to catch the sand the wind carries, thus building dunes that will later be further secured by planting grass on the accumulated sand. Without the trees, the sand will be carried away, and over time, the beach will erode. Because this ten-mile stretch of shoreline acts as a storm barrierprotecting both New Jersey and its residents from natural disastersit is essential that this ten-mile shoreline is secured

To see how you can get involved, contact the New Jersey State Park Service.