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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Rockefeller Center Holiday Tree Rolls into Paper at ESF

College partners with Habitat for Humanity in children’s book project

Part of the holiday tree that graced New York City's Rockefeller Center this past holiday season was pulped and made into paper at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) for use in a Habitat for Humanity project.

The paper made Friday, April 15, on the college's paper machine, will be used in conjunction with Habitat's publication of a children's book about the need for people to help each other. The ESF-made paper will be used in commemorative bookplates and promotional materials.

"In retrospect, coming up with the idea to print a special edition of the book on paper milled from the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was the easy part," said David Rubel, who wrote The Carpenter's Gift in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity. "The commercial paper houses we approached all agreed that the project was a great idea, but none of them were able to take it on. One phone call to SUNY-ESF, and Habitat knew we had found the partner we'd been looking for."

The 78th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was donated to Habitat for Humanity for the fourth consecutive year by Tishman Speyer, the company that owns the famous New York City property. 

 After the holiday season, the tree was milled into lumber in Rockefeller Plaza to be used in framing the exterior walls of a home that will be built by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh in the mid-Hudson Valley, near the community of Mahopac where the tree grew.

Parts from the 74-foot Norway spruce that were not suitable for lumber were brought to ESF, where they were chipped, processed in a digester and made into usable pulp, said Raymond Appleby, who manages pilot plant operations for ESF. Pulp from the tree was mixed with the college's regular pulp supply to produce the commemorative paper.

"The unbleached fibers from the tree should be visible in the finished sheet," Appleby said.

The paper science and engineering programs at ESF date back to 1920. The college offered the first academic courses in pulp and paper in the United States and was the first educational institution to have an on-campus pilot paper plant.