Icelandic tree producers in Christmas race

Tree-folk in Iceland are racing against time, and each other, to get Christmas trees chopped down and into the shops.

Domestic Christmas trees still make up only a quarter of all real Christmas trees sold in Iceland.

Lodgepole pine is an increasingly popular choice of Christmas tree in Iceland, at the expense of the European spruce — although the latter is still the most popular. It is predicted that some 40,000 Christmas trees will be sold in Iceland over the coming month and that 10,000 of them will have been grown in the country, RÚV reports.

The state-run Iceland Forest Service is no longer the biggest domestic provider of yuletide trees and the organisation is only planning to provide 200-300 trees this year from its Vaglaskógur forest. The forest used to provide 1,500 Christmas trees a year at its peak.

“But it seems there are now others coming on to the market, like tree farmers and private forestry companies, especially in recent years,” says Sigurður Skúlason, a forest warden at Vaglaskógur.

“Tree farmers will surely become more, and stronger, on the market because the amount they can harvest is growing year-on-year.”

Conditions for cutting trees this year are said to be particularly good, as all forests are easily accessible and the lack of snow makes it easy to reach the trees.

“This is actually pretty special. People are able to gather a hundred trees in a few hours, whereas sometimes one has to struggle waist-deep through snow to mark the trees. Now it is possible to get around just like on a summer’s day,” Sigurður beams.

Icelandic tree farmers are currently in the first few years of a 15-year project to massively increase Icelandic Christmas tree production. While most Christmas trees for retail have traditionally been imported, it would in fact be possible to grow them all domestically.