Beach lovers use Christmas trees to repair dunes damaged by major storms

'The hope is that we will no longer see the Christmas trees in the short future, say a year or two'

It may be April, but the spirit of Christmas is helping preserve beaches in the Shediac, N.B., area.

The Shediac Bay Watershed Association is using discarded Christmas trees to help fight erosion on Belliveau Beach.

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Jolyne Hebert, the association's manager, said the impacts of major storms Dorian in 2019 and Fiona in 2022 have damaged beaches in the area.

The group had used snow fence to help sand accumulate and to stabilize the dunes. But Fiona swept those plans, the fencing and much of the dunes out to sea.

Hebert's hoping to have more luck with the Christmas trees.

"As the sand migrates back and forth [across] the Christmas trees, all the branches are going to act as a sand trap and capture and accumulate that sand," said Hebert.

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jolyne-hebert/Mudashiru Babatunde Lawani/Radio-Canada

Jolyne Hebert, the association’s manager, said two major storms in recent years damaged beaches in the area. (Mudashiru Babatunde Lawani/Radio-Canada)

"The goal is that marram grass will regrow … and these root systems will redevelop into that sand and take over and above where the Christmas trees were installed."

Christmas dunes

The trees are lined up on the beach, tied together with biodegradable rope.

Hebert said the goal is to have new dunes form in place of the Christmas trees.

"The hope is that we will no longer see the Christmas trees in the short future, say a year or two," said Hebert.

"They'll be completely buried and the vegetation will retake above and create that net and that reinforcement that will keep the sand in place."

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Hebert said using Christmas trees to shore up dunes has been used elsewhere to mixed success.

She said some dunes have formed while other beaches have had issues with severe storms sweeping the trees away, or beachgoers chopping up the trees to use as firewood.

"We do have some signage saying, 'Dune restoration in progress, please don't touch,"' said Hebert.

Thumbnail courtesy of Mudashiru Babatunde Lawani/Radio-Canada.

The story was originally published for CBC News. With files from Information Morning Moncton.