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


Team members

Clement Girardot

Clement Girardot is a French freelance  investigative reporter based in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

Jenny Gustafsson

Jenny Gustafsson is a Sweden-born journalist reporting from across the Middle East, South Asia and other places. 



Nino Bakradze

Nino Bakradze is an editor and co-founder of Investigative Journalists' Team iFact based in Tbilisi, Georgia. 


Nino Bakradze

Clementine Metenier

Clementine Metenier is a French freelance investigative journalist doing radio reportages abroad. 


Julien Pebrel

Julien Pebrel is a French photographer and a member of MYOP Photo Agency since 2011. 


A grant of EUR 8.100 allocated on 05/07/2019




  • Het Bos Van De Kerstman - De Morgen - 07/12/2019; 
  • Mon beau sapin … géorgienL'Obs - 12/12/2019.

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