Repurpose Your Christmas Tree for Wildlife

For many people, the experience of cutting a live Christmas tree remains one of the quintessential joys of the season. But after the last ornament has been carefully packed away and the tree has been dragged back out through the front door, some people wonder about the best way to dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way. This season, however, you have the opportunity to give your Christmas tree a second magical winter chapter by recycling it for wildlife! From December 26, 2023 through January 7, 2024 bring your once-live Christmas tree to the Great Bay Discovery Center in Greenland, NH, and help create our first-ever winter wildlife trail!

Along with their trees, participants should also bring with them natural decorations such as pinecones covered with peanut butter and then dipped into bird seed or nuts, suet cubes, sliced oranges, and more. You can also make these bird seed ornaments to bring along!  Pre-designated locations throughout the forest at the Discovery Center will be assigned for donated trees, and materials will be provided at the entrance to the wildlife trail so that families can securely anchor their contribution to the project. Family can personally label their trees with tags furnished by us and then watch footage of the creatures that visit their tree on the wildlife cams positioned along the wildlife Christmas tree trail.

Putting your “decorated” tree outdoors after Christmas has many benefits for wildlife. Initially your repurposed tree will provide food, cover, and roosting habitat for a variety of winter birds such as blue jays, cardinals, and chickadees. Then, once the needles begin to fall off, the trees will be stacked into brush piles, becoming excellent habitat for small mammals such as cottontail rabbits and chipmunks. Finally, the slowly decomposing trees will later release nutrients back into the soil to help surrounding plant life flourish.

For more information including the location of the trail and detailed instructions on how to participate this year, visit the Reserve’s social media platforms @GreatBayNERR or visit the Discovery Center’s page.

The Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s mission is to promote informed management of the Great Bay Estuary through linked programs of research, education, and stewardship. These programs enhance scientific understanding of the estuary and communicate this information to interested citizens and decision makers. The Reserve’s programs focus on management-relevant issues aligned with four priority topics: land conservation and stewardship, water quality, biological communities and habitats, and climate change impacts and adaptation. To learn more visit