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Golden bauble hunt at Alice Holt Forest this Christmas

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A couple measure the size of their real Christmas tree

The Forestry Commission is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the very first Decorated Christmas Tree this year, with a golden bauble hunt in forests nationwide. From Saturday, 4 December, there will be five decorated trees each with a golden bauble hidden deep within Alice Holt Forest.  The first lucky families to find these special trees and collect the Forestry Commission golden bauble will win a free sustainably-grown Christmas tree.

In 1510 men from the local merchants’ guild in Riga (Latvia) decorated a tree with artificial roses.  Since then this tradition has been passed on through generations and travelled across the world. Choosing a Christmas tree and decorating it is one of the highlights of the festive season for families and the Christmas tree is the focal point for most celebrations. 

So escape from the shops, gather up your friends and family, wrap up warm and feel the crisp fresh air in the forest. Then afterwards settle down in the cosy Café on the Green to warm up and treat yourself to a steaming hot chocolate or a bowl of hearty home-made soup and a well-earned mince pie.

All over the country Forestry Commission sales centres are offering a range of sustainably-grown Christmas trees for sale from 26 November 2010.  The range of real Christmas trees includes traditional Norway spruce, dense, bushy pines and shapely firs to choose from.  All the trees are grown on plantations in the UK and are grown especially for Christmas and for every tree felled at least one is planted.

If you’re looking for a more unusual Christmas present this year, give the gift of the Forest with the Alice Holt Forest Discovery Pass annual membership and support your local forest.  The Christmas Tree sales centre at Alice Holt Forest is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm everyday until trees are sold out.

Top tips to keep a real Christmas trees looking good
1) Store in a cool place before bringing indoors
2) Keep away from direct heat
3) Cut half an inch off the stump and stand in a container full of water
4) Water regularly - a Christmas tree can 'drink' up to a pint of water a day

Notes to Editors

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.

Forestry Commission England sells around 50,000 Christmas trees each year from 25 Christmas tree sales centres.

What are the advantages of real over fake Christmas trees?

  • Real trees are a renewable resource – another tree is planted for every one harvested
  • it has been estimated that real trees used 10-times less basic materials and 5-times less energy than artificial trees
  • real trees are totally biodegradable and can be recycled and made into compost
  • real trees are the traditional option and also provide a Christmassy scent
  • growing real Christmas trees helps sustain the UK rural economy and provides jobs

Why you should you buy a real Christmas tree from the Forestry Commission?

  • The Forestry Commission only sells trees that are grown in a sustainable manner in the UK - for every tree harvested another is replanted.
  • Environmental factors are considered carefully on sites where Forestry Commission trees are taken from.
  • The Forestry Commission endeavours to provide excellent quality trees, with good needle retention, in a range of species including the traditional Norway spruce, dense, bushy pines and shapely firs.
  • The large number and choice of species displayed on site provides a very good range to select from - your ideal tree will be there somewhere.
  • Many of our sales centres offer much more than just buying a tree, but a whole Christmas experience in the forest.

What species of trees are sold as Christmas trees?

  • Norway Spruce - the traditional Christmas tree - has a mid-green colour, a fine, delicate foliage and a distinctive 'Christmassy' scent.
  • Nordmann fir - This is the most popular tree that we sell.  It has distinctive broad, bold green needles with whitish underside.
  • Lodgepole pine - a cheerful green colour, tinged slightly with yellow, and a sharp fragrance.

Recycling of Christmas trees

Recycling (chipping) of trees is done by some of our larger sales centres, but not all.  Customers need to check when buying the tree if they can bring it back for recycling.   Alternatively, it is a good idea to contact your Local Authority as many Councils now have street collection of Christmas trees or smaller communities will provide a one-day disposal or 'chipping'.

For a comprehensive picture of the benefits of real Christmas trees from the Christmas tree sales sector as a whole please contact Roger Hay from the British Christmas Tree Growers’s Association on 0131 664110.

Media contact:
Jo Spouncer, Press Officer, Forestry Commission South East T. 01483 326265 M. 07828 762045 E.