Excerpt from thenationalnews.com
In a blackened, desolate orchard on the Greek island of Evia, Vaggelis Georgantzis walks to his last remaining pine tree.
“This is the last one I own,” he says, softly.
A plastic bag dangles from the bark collecting sticky resin, now crusty and dry from the heat of the fire that engulfed the surrounding trees. He says he’ll keep it as a memento.
Mr Georgantzis tears up. “We’re finished. I am finished. I’ll never be able to produce resin in my lifetime.”
Known as “retsini” locally, the resin is the lifeblood of this now devastated community. Used primarily as an ingredient in paint solvent and in wine production, the crop embodies the stark reality many on this island now face.
A single pine tree takes between 20 and 40 years to mature fully; only then can resin can be extracted. There are no shortcuts. It is hard to overstate the impact of this loss for the island.
Mr Georgantzis is head of the Resin Producers Association on Evia, representing 1,500 farmers. He says 800 of these farms were lost in the fire, representing close to three quarters of the island’s production. Beneath those farms is a complex and mature value chain, leading all the way to processing and export.
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