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Do you know where your Christmas tree comes from?

Thursday, July 30
Every year people all over the world search near and far for the perfect Christmas tree and when they find it, buy it, take it home and decorate it. Christmas presents are placed underneath to share with loved ones, but not everyone realises the origin of their Christmas tree.

Georgia is a major player in the Christmas tree industry; almost 90 percent of all seeds for Christmas trees in Europe come from Georgia.

In late September every year, strong men from Georgia’s remote Racha region leave their homes for the distant forest, where they use their bare hands to climb pine trees measuring 30m high to collect seeds under risky conditions. The majority of pine cone seeds are sold to Danish companies. Denmark is Europe’s largest Christmas tree exporter.

About 45 million Nordmann (Caucasian) fir trees are sold annually in western Europe. Of these, about 22 million are sold in Germany each year.

Fair Trees is one of the many Danish companies that buys Christmas tree seeds from the Racha region but what’s unique about this company is that a portion of all money from Christmas tree sales goes back to Georgia to support the Christmas tree industry.

For every Christmas tree sold, ˆ0.675 is reserved for the development of the local Racha community. The raised money is mainly spent on educational and health programs in Ambrolauri, the municipal centre of Racha, and nearby villages.

The funds are managed by the Fair Trees Fund. United Kingdom-based Georgian singer Ketie Melua is the ambassador for Fair Trees.

Surprisingly enough, many Fair Tree Christmas trees are purchased during the summer but many more will be sold in large supermarket chains throughout Europe from the beginning of November.

This summer, Fair Trees invited children from Racha to participate in the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) camp in Wolfshausen, Germany. There children will spend a week in the August camp to learn more about environment and to better realise how unique the Racha region is and the pine trees that grow there. (