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Forestry Commission England’s guide to choosing the perfect Christmas tree

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A family choosing their Real Christmas tree

Choosing your Christmas tree is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the festive season, but other than the size, what are the things to consider when buying your tree?

Each tree species can be a little bit different in size, scent and needle retention so it’s difficult to know which one is perfect for you. To help you find the perfect match this Christmas, Forestry Commission England has created a simple guide on its three most popular trees.

Norway spruce
The Norway spruce is the traditional Christmas tree – it’s known for:
• A wonderful shape and an abundance of branches – great for hanging lots of decorations!
• A lovely ‘Christmassy’ scent that's perfect at this time of year
• Being a little sharp and spikey to touch

Who does it suit?
With a long lasting scent and a traditional shape, Norway spruce are perfect for those who appreciate the classic look and smell of Christmas.

It’s best to buy your Norway Spruce nearer to Christmas as it can lose its needles quite quickly once brought indoors. To help your spruce retain its needles for longer, keep it away from the radiator and ensure it’s watered every day.

Nordmann fir
The Nordmann fir is the most popular Christmas tree in Europe – it’s known for:
• Having soft foliage and an even shape – making it a joy to decorate!
• Glossy, dark green needles that have a whitish/light blue underside
• Strong branches, which are great for hanging those big glass decorations

Who does it suit?
With its big needles which are lovely and soft, Nordmann fir are perfect for those with young children.

Our top quality Nordmann fir can be quite a wide tree, so you will need reasonable space to show it off to its best. For a 6ft tall tree allow approximately 5ft space.

Lodgehole pine
The Lodgehole pine looks best in a big space with high ceilings – it’s known for:
• It's bushy appearance and luscious long green needles
• Branches that point upwards
• That wonderful pine scent
• It's great needle retention, which makes it a long lasting tree

Who does it suit?
With the best needle retention of them all, Lodgehole pines are perfect for those who like to decorate their tree and little earlier and don’t want Christmas to end.

The long needles on Lodgehole pines draw attention to any decorations. More is definitely more with this tree!

Real v’s fake
Being experts in trees, woodland and sustainable forestry, Forestry Commission England’s real Christmas trees are so good, even Santa has given his stamp of approval. But why buy real?

Real trees use 10 times fewer materials and five times less energy than artificial trees. And they are completely biodegradable.

Forestry Commission England only sell trees that are grown in the UK in a well-managed way and more trees are planted each year than harvested. This year, you can even plant your own!

Every tree sold will come with a free baby sapling, allowing you to plant and grow you own real Christmas tree for the future. It will also come with a certificate of authenticity to guarantee the trees quality, which will be signed by Santa himself.

There is also so much more to offer than just buying a tree. Many of our sales centres offer a whole Christmas experience including a Santa’s grotto and a whole range of activities for both little and big kids to get into the festive spirit!

To find your nearest centre, purchase a 100% Santa approved Christmas tree online or check out top tree tips on keeping your tree fresh and healthy over the festive holidays visit

Notes to editors
1. 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.

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise     England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.

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

Christmas tree sale centres:
1. Haldon Forest
2. Beechenhurst Lodge
3. Sherwood Pines
4. Birches Valley, Cannock Chase
5. Delamere Forest
6. Moors Valley
7. Alice Holt
8.  Queen Elizabeth Country Park
9. New Park
10. Bedgebury Pinetum
11. Thetford Forest
12. Wendover Woods
13. Kielder Forest
14. Hamsterly Forest
15. Grizedale Forest
16. Whinlatter Forest
17. Rothbury Forest
18. Dalby Forest
19. Guisborough Forest
20. Cardinham Woods

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.
• Every tree sold will come with a free baby sapling, allowing you to plant and grow you own real Christmas tree for the future.
• 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, with a Santa's grotto, and a whole range of activities for both little and big kids to get into the festive spirit!