Forget Eurovision and the EU referendum, the most important European vote of the year has begun – the competition to crown the European Tree of the Year! England, Scotland and Wales are all represented alongside eleven other countries in the vote which is taking place throughout February. Run by the Environmental Partnership Association, the voting mechanism is straightforward – the tree with the most public votes at the end of February will win.

England is represented by the Major Oak, found in Sherwood Forest Country Park, managed by Nottinghamshire County Council. The tree is famous for its associations with Robin Hood and is thought to be between 800 and 1,000 years old.

Councillor John Knight, Committee Chairman for Culture, at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “The Major Oak is one of the most iconic and best known trees in the world. It has witnessed so many periods of our history and is at the heart of Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest. The Major Oak touches people’s hearts and their imaginations. We were delighted that it won the Woodland Trust’s England Tree of the Year and hope everyone can now get behind our European campaign.”

Scotland’s nomination is Lady’s Tree, which has already won the “Scotland’s Tree of the Year Award’, is a 100 year old Scots pine at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes reserve near Dunkeld. Home to a famous osprey known as Lady for nearly a quarter of a century, over that time she has fledged an incredible 50 chicks.

Lady's Tree
Lady’s Tree, photo by Scottish Wildlife Trust

The Scottish Wildlife Trust have stated;

The Scots Pine is native to the Highlands of Scotland and is the largest and longest-lived tree in the Caledonian Forest. Its conservation status is recovering with regeneration now starting to occur, especially in areas fenced off from browsing deer.

This particular Scots Pine at Loch of Lowes is over 60 feet tall and was chosen by our famous Osprey affectionately known as ‘Lady’, as her home. It also forms the foundations for a variety of other species that depend upon it in many ways. Playing host to Stump Lichens and Scottish Wood Ants that live on and under the bark, a shelter for deer, shade for flowers, home and food for red squirrels and in pride of place up top, our majestic Ospreys that nest in its level branches.

It’s part of a conservation success story! For the past 24 years ‘Lady’ has returned to nest in this Scots Pine tree on our nature reserve at Loch of the Lowes, Dunkeld, Perthshire. During this time she has laid 71 eggs and fledged 50 chicks. This is truly remarkable and the safety provided by the Scots pine in all weather has surely played a part in that success.

Wales is represented by the Lonely Tree, another Scots pine, found at the top of a hill watching over the town of Llanfyllin. More than 200 years old, the tree sadly blew over in April last year. Determined locals have since done their best to try and preserve the beloved local landmark, covering its roots with over 30 tonnes of soil.

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive, said:

“The UK has the largest concentration of veteran and ancient trees in Europe so a win for one of our nominees would be fitting. Our old trees need better recognition and protection, which is why we are calling for a register for our trees of special interest across the UK.”

More than 6,000 people have so far taken action through the charity’s V.I.Trees campaign in partnership with Country Living Magazine, contacting their country’s minister to call for the creation of a register for individual trees of special interest.

To place your vote in the competition visit www.treeoftheyear.org, before the end of February.

Article published on behalf of the Woodlands Trust: http://woodlandstrust.org.uk. Additional information about the Lady’s Tree sourced from the Scottish Wildlife Trust: www.scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk
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