GEORGIA - Each year in December, 80 million Christmas trees are sold across Europe. The majority of these, 45 million, are Nordmann firs who have their origins in the Caucasus region. 80 % of the Nordmann trees cultivated in Europe come from seeds harvested in Western Georgia.
This is where each fall cone pickers climb to the top of the trees and harvest the cones - a risky job. They come from local communities in the Racha province, a hard-to-reach region for long neglected by the government, where levels of poverty and unemployment are high.
In Europe, the seeds and seedlings trade is a lucrative business, involving several middlemen and companies that grow and sell the Christmas trees. Georgian and European companies - mostly Danish - are involved in harvesting and exporting the Nordmann fir seeds to Europe. The sector is lacking proper monitoring from the Georgian authorities, enabling some companies to get around zoning and licensing regulations, and avoid paying local taxes.
Photo: © Julien Pebrel
- En Géorgie, aux racines du sapin Nordmann - Le Temps (Switzerland) - 07/12/2019;
- De gör det farliga jobbet – plockar fröet till din julgran - Göteborgs-Posten - 07/12/2019
- Where Europe's Best Christmas Trees Begin - The Washington Post - 24/12/2019
- Point de fuite: les graines amères du sapin de Noël - The Radio télévision suisse (RTS) - 12/12/2019