Developing a C-budget model for balsam fir Christmas tree orchards and enhancing carbon drawdown.

Nova Scotia is one of the largest producers of Christmas trees in Canada with over 5,000 hectares currently in production growing millions of trees. The Nova Scotian industry harvests over 1 million trees each year. The Christmas tree industry is a unique subsect of forestry where every tree that is harvested gets replanted. Harvested trees are often collected after Christmas to be mulched so they may be applied to soil, which means a large portion of carbon is retained in sinks other than the atmosphere. The number of trees, biomass, and life cycle of Christmas trees in Nova Scotia have strong potential to help Nova Scotia reach its greenhouse gas mitigation goals. However, little is known about Nova Scotia’s Christmas tree carbon stock and associated soil carbon budget.

Through collaboration of researchers from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia Community College, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, and the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia, this project aims to increase our understanding of carbon stores in Christmas tree orchard biomass and soils. The project will use established CBM-CFS3 and RothC models to estimate carbon stores. The project will then look at incorporating technologies to enhance carbon sequestration by Christmas trees while simultaneously increasing Christmas tree producer return on investment. Specifically, this project will:

1) Estimate both above and below ground carbon stock in balsam fir trees in the Nova Scotian Christmas tree industry;

2) Create a new model to estimate above and belowground carbon of tabletop trees (i.e. trees < 5 years old);

3) Determine the soil carbon budget in balsam fir orchards;

4) Identify new technologies to increase both balsam fir growth rate and carbon sequestration rate.


Mason MacDonald at Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University 

December 1, 2023 – March 31, 2025