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German Christmas trees in a sorry state

Published on 11/12/2003

11 December 2003

BERLIN – More than half of Germany’s stock of the tannenbaum, the fir which has been the country’s Christmas tree for centuries, is damaged by pollution.

Twenty-one per cent of Germany’s woods now show considerable pollution damage compared to 19 percent a year ago – and only 35 percent of all trees can be regarded as healthy, environmentalists said Wednesday.

The tannenbaum has been the worst hit with 51 percent suffering pollution damage, followed by 37 percent of the country’s oak.

“The trend is clearly negative,” said Hubert Weinzierl, president of the German Nature Protection Association, the umbrella organization of the country’s nature conservation groups.

The Christmas tree tradition is believed to have spread from Germany several hundred years ago, and the evergreen is celebrated in one of Germany’s best known Christmas songs, “O Tannenbaum”.

“How faithful are your leaves,” the song goes on to extol. But no more, it seems, thanks mainly to vehicle and agricultural pollution.

Next year looks like being even worse when the late summer period of dry and hot weather takes its toll, the organization said.

Subject: German news