For the 2nd year in a row, the Christmas tree that will light St. Peter's Square in Vatican City comes from PEFC-certified, sustainably managed forests. This year's tree, a 34 meter spruce, originates from forests in Alto-Adige in South Tyrol, an autonomous region in Northern Italy.
The 94 year old tree was installed last Friday. It took a dozen labourers and some heavy machinery to place the tree in position. In addition, fifty smaller spruces and firs arrived in Rome, which will decorate the Vatican museum. These trees were harvested in forests surrounding Luson, close to the city of Brixen in South Tyrol and the area where Pope Benedict XVI.'s mother was born and where the Pope enjoyed a number of summer holidays.
In the coming days, the Christmas tree will be decorated with over 3000 Christmas decorations and 1500 lights. The tree, which is among the most photographed Christmas trees in the world, will be lit on 17th December in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI.
The idea of a Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square comes from the late Pope John Paul II, who introduced the first tree in 1982, four years after assuming the papacy. Now, each year, the Vatican accepts a tree donated by a different European country. Last year's tree came from a PEFC certified forests from the Walloon Region of Belgium.
Currently, 739.000 hectares of forests in Italy are certified to PEFC criteria. This represents 8% of the total Italian forest area.