In what is now an annual tradition at the Vatican, a Christmas tree has been delivered to Rome which will take pride of place in St. Peter's Square. The tree comes from a PEFC-certified forest in the Walloon Region of Belgium. PEFC Italy will be offsetting the CO2 emissions resulting from the tree's transportation and lighting and so at the official ceremony when the lights are switched on, Pope Benedict XVI will receive a truly environmentally friendly Christmas gift.
The first Vatican Christmas Tree came from Poland, Pope John-Paul II's country of origin, in 1982. A Polish lumberjack decided to deliver a giant tree to the Vatican on his tractor. Since then, a nativity scene and gigantic Christmas tree have become regular features in St. Peter's Square every Christmas. Now a well-established tradition, the gift of a Christmas Tree to the Pope has become an honour, which this year has been accorded to Belgium.
The tree, grown in a PEFC-certified forest, in Spa is a 30 metre high Norway Spruce. The circumference of its trunk measures an impressive 2.65 metres and it weighs a massive 14 tonnes.
PEFC Italy will offset the CO2 emissions caused by the transport and subsequent lighting of the tree through forestry work that will reinvigorate forests and lead to a positive net sequestration of CO2.
When Christmas is over, the timber from the tree won't be wasted - 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's sustainability benchmark. This represents almost half of the total Walloon forest area.