From Georgia With Cones
As well as offering full FSC® and PEFC™ certification, we also provide Forest Verification of Legal Compliance. The main purpose of FVLC is to enable forests that can’t, for some reason, meet full FSC certification standards to at least prove they conform to all forest-related legislation in the country of origin.
One of our clients, Danish company, HedeDanmark, sources fir cones/seeds from Georgia to grow into Christmas trees where they are based in Denmark. Soil Association Certification Forestry team developed a checklist to use when auditing fir cone picking in Georgia - this was a complex process, as it involved adapting our original auditing checklist to both Georgian forest law and Danish trade law.
This checklist ensures that the cone pickers have a contract, get paid properly and are insured for work. It also means that cones are only picked within the area licensed by the Georgian authorities and that no more than a sustainable level is picked. The checklist also includes laws about trade, taxes and customs, such as protecting plant health.
Here are some photos from Karina Kitnaes (from Orbicon, our Agent in Denmark) taken during the annual audit:
This fir cone picker team has stayed in the woods for 14 days, where they picked the cones of Abies Nordmanniana (Nordmann Fir) by climbing to the tops of the trees and picking the cones.
The cones are dried, packed and transported to Denmark, where the seeds become 'Danish' Christmas trees.