A Czech initiative has grown into the European Tree of the Year contest, with individual trees entered for their unique contribution to European cultural heritage. The 2015 European Tree of the Year is a magnificent oak in the middle a football field in Orissaare, Estonia.
Anyone can nominate a tree, which they do by sending in a photo and an explanation of how the tree contributes to their local community. Each country has its own national tree champion which is entered in the European competition. Photos of all the national champions are uploaded to the website, and people in each participating country can then vote for their favourite tree. A bit like Eurovision for trees.
The competition organisers want to raise awareness of the importance of trees throughout Europe, both for their heritage value and also their contribution to biodiversity. They hope that this will encourage people to take better care of their community’s significant trees.
Fourteen countries now participate in the European competition which will next year include Germany for the first time.
Second place in 2015 was awarded to a plane tree in Tata, Hungary, and third place to a pollarded black poplar tree in Aguilar del Alfambra, Aragón, Spain, where pollarded trees are part of an 800-year old tradition of ‘working’ trees, contributing wood fuel, building timber and leaf fodder.
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