Real Christmas trees walk into the living room

For the Clarke family of Camden, faking it is not an option at Christmas.

Tony Clarke, his wife, Kylie, and their three children made their annual trek to the Triple A Christmas Tree Farm at Luddenham at the weekend to select the radiata pine tree that will grace their home until December 25.

''I looked at fake ones but they are just not the same,'' said Mrs Clarke, who has bought a tree from the farm for the past four years.

The Australian Conservation Foundation says buying real trees is a superior environmental option to choosing an artificial tree, because of the aluminium and plastics used to make fake trees, plus the energy required to manufacture them - primarily in China - and transport them.

But the foundation's Sara McMillan said a rare wollemi pine - a species discovered by a bushwalker in a national park outside Sydney in 1994 - or at least an Australian native is an even better choice.

The wollemi pine is a threatened species that would benefit from being cared for in gardens across Australia once the festive season is over.

"By people planting and caring for the wollemi pines they will have a greater chance of survival," Ms McMillan said. "In terms of degrees of sustainability, certainly a native plant would be the preference. But the traditional pine is not necessarily a bad second option if it is sustainably harvested.''

John Siemon, project manager at the Australian PlantBank, acknowledged that although the wollemi pine was the best environmental option it was not suited to everyone's backyard.

"It is the Christmas equivalent of the bilby instead of the bunny for Easter. But it is temperamental in the wrong environment," Mr Siemon said.

But artificial trees are still popular, with more than 6000 of them sold at Christmas Warehouse stores over the past weekend.

"Artificial tree sales get stronger every year," said Chris Mehl, the general manager of Christmas Warehouse.

smh.com.au

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