This invasive species makes a great Christmas tree, and you can get one for free

Free Christmas trees are available in Alberta and Saskatchewan this weekend, for a good cause.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is hosting two tree harvesting events on Saturday — one in central Alberta near Red Deer and another in Saskatchewan near Saskatoon — in an attempt to get rid of invasive spruce trees.

The trees aren't native to the areas and their presence could actually damage the habitat for other plants and animals.

"Blue spruce are really common Christmas trees, we have them here in Alberta but they're not actually native species to our area. In fact, nowhere in Canada are Colorado blue spruce native trees," said Carys Richards, the NCC's communications co-ordinator for the Alberta region.

In central Alberta, Richards says the NCC inherited a property that was used as a tree farm, which grew blue and white spruce trees.

 A group of volunteers worked Thursday to cut down the invasive blue spruce, which they are letting people take home for Christmas trees.

Limited number of trees

This is the second year the NCC has put on the event. Last year about 70 people came to the Red Deer location, which was more than they had trees for. 

So anyone who wants a free tree is advised to get there early.

Anyone can also go and cut down a free spruce tree at NCC's Messier property, which is a  40-minute drive from Saskatoon. Visit their website to check for availability.

In Alberta, the harvest is done by volunteers and people are invited to the Underwood Property near the Pine Lake in the Red Deer area to pick up a free blue spruce tree.

The free tree harvest comes as holiday shoppers face higher costs for natural Christmas trees at retail outlets.