Elveden Christmas trees travel by air

A helicopter became the star of the show when it was drafted in to help harvest more than 100 spruces to be displayed across the country this festive season.

Elveden Christmas Trees was forced to draft in the machine for the first time in a decade to help transport the trees from one of its sites in Kielder Forest in Northumberland.

Some 120 Sitka Spruces were harvested in this way on November 9 after the site was found to be too wet for a tractor.

Instead, the trees, which will grace town and city centres across the UK, were cut using chainsaws and lifted into the air over a two-day period.

Forestry manager for Elveden Christmas Trees, said: “The helicopter is an essential part of this year’s operation, as the trees which require felling are growing on very wet areas and cannot be extracted by usual methods of cranes and tractors.

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“The trees have grown naturally from seeds blown onto very sensitive and ecologically important areas and extraction by helicopter is both efficient and avoids damage by wheeled or tracked vehicles having to drive on the sites.”

Weighing up to 2.2 tonnes and between 28ft and 50ft each, the trees were extracted by Heli-Lift Services of Oxford.

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As well as Kielder forest, trees are harvested from other sites in Scotland and England, including the Elveden Estate itself, near Thetford.

In January once Christmas is over the trees are all recycled and used as either wood fuel or chipped for use as weed mulch, reducing the need for herbicides.

In addition to the town centre trees, Elveden also sells Christmas trees to home-owners.

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