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Christmas tree event is a gift for conservation

People collecting their Christmas trees at Pull a Pine event, RSPB Arne Nature Reserve, Dorset, December 2019
  • RSPB Arne’s Pull a Pine weekend is one of the country’s largest conservation events
  • Public help to remove thousands of invasive pine trees from native heathland
  • Visitors enjoy a host of entertainment and take home a sustainable Christmas tree

An annual event at a Dorset nature reserve allows thousands of people to take home a sustainable Christmas tree whilst also contributing to one of the country’s largest mass conservation efforts.

Pull A Pine at RSPB Arne invites people along to enjoy a day of festivities, including the chance to choose, chop down and take home their own traditional tree. The trees in question are invasive pines which left unchecked, would outcompete important native heathland plants.

Last year’s event saw more than 15,000 trees removed over a weekend, a huge effort in allowing the site to maintain a healthy mix of landscapes, such as bare ground, gorse, and heather, and provide the perfect home for Dorset’s special heathland wildlife such as, the Silver Studded Blue Butterfly, Sand Lizards, and summer visitors like the Hobby.

In the past, heathland would have been a common habitat in the UK but changes in land use and developments means it now accounts for less than 15%.  It’s crucial for rare birds such as Nightjar and Dartford Warbler, both of which flourish at Arne, the host site of BBC Springwatch in 2023.  

Staff on the reserve help to make a real day of it for visitors, organising live music, crafting events including festive wreath making using foliage from the pines, a Santa visit and a host of other activities as well as food and refreshments. It has become a firm favourite in many family’s Christmas calendars.

Lesley Gorman, visitor operations manager at RSPB Arne, said: “As conservation events go, this is definitely a win-win for everyone!  Our visitors have a great day out and get to choose a lovely Christmas tree. In terms of the nature reserve, it’s about removing an invasive species that would take over our precious heathland given the chance.  It’d take staff and volunteers weeks if not months to achieve what’s done in a single weekend!”

The event is held on the weekend of December 2nd and 3rd, and advance booking is essential. Tickets can be booked at