The vote for the European Tree of the Year 2014 is now open on the official website (here). Trees from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, and Wales are running for the award. Which tree in Europe will be the winner this year?
Unlike other contests, the age, beauty and height of the tree are not the most important features in the European Tree of the Year award. What matters most is the story that trees hold and their link with community leaving around them.
“The trees that made it to the final are unique as they are the living eyewitnesses of many local or even national events, and are firmly rooted in the lives of their communities. It is a pity that they cannot tell us about their histories on their own” says the contest's coordinator Andrea Krůpová of the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation.
The Oak from Perthshire in Scotland would evoke memories about the violinist Niel Gow who composed his songs underneath its canopy in the 18th century, whereas the Oak from Kremnica in Slovakia would recall its meeting with the emperor Joseph II.
The Będomin Oak has silently watched Józef Wybicki, the composer of the Polish national anthem, while growing up, and it was under the Wild Pear of Gödöllő where Lajos Kossuth allegedly wrote the Hungarian declaration of independence. A thousand years old Bulgarian Elm marks the spot where the elevation of the Sliven town was measured for the first time, and its contemporary, the Welsh Oak of Wrexham, has witnessed a battle between the armies of England and Wales. The Oak that grows in the Fonte Colombo sanctuary attracts crowds of pilgrims not only from Italy, but even from abroad – no wonder, it was here where saint Francis of Assisi often came to pray.
The European Tree of the Year even has its fearless hero-tree. It is the Oak-protector from the Czech Republic which has saved the lives of two people during the floods of 2010. “And if you are interested in rarities, you will be thrilled by the highest Grey Poplar of Ireland or by the Bonsai Oak from Bégard, France, which grows on top of an old dovecote and has its roots burrowed into the walls” says Andrea Krůpová.
The goal of the international contest is to present interesting European trees to the public and highlight them as an important natural and historical legacy that deserves more attention and better protection.
The voting ends on 28 February and its results are to be announced on 19 March in the European Parliament, Brussels, during the Award Ceremony organized under the patronage of Mr Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, and Mr Pavel Poc, Member of the European Parliament (register here) .
The European Tree of the Year is organized by the Partnership Foundation in cooperation with the European Landowners' Organization (ELO) and Tetra Pak. The contest is supported by Mr Pavel Poc, Member of the European Parliament, IUCN and South Moravian Region.
More information and pictures about the European Tree of the Year contest visit the official website or contact Andrea Krůpová, European Tree of the Year coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, T + 420 515 903 131.