Nearly 200,000 people from all over Europe voted for their favourite tree in the European Tree of the Year contest during the month of February. The winner is an Oak tree on a football pitch in Estonia, accumulating 60,000 votes. The runner up was the Hungarian 'Great Plane of Tata', and the Spanish 'Poplar pollard of the Remolinar' came third.
The winner of the European Tree of the year is a 150-year Oak from Orisaree in the Saare County in Estonia. This tree was incorporated into a football stadium built in 1951, when a small sports field was enlarged. For the locals this is a common thing: The players know how to use the tree to complete passes, and value it for the shade it offers.
The European Tree of the Year contest was first organized in 2011, inspired by the popular Tree of the Year contest in the Czech Republic, and 14 countries now participate in the initiative. The objective of the contest is to highlight the significance of old trees in the natural and cultural heritage, deserving care and protection. The contest does not focus on beauty, size or age but rather on the tree's ‘story’ and its connection to people and local communities.
“IUCN has supported the European Tree of the Year initiative for many years now, as we believe that highlighting the natural and historical legacy of trees is key for awareness raising, and fully in line with our mission to encourage society to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature,” said Luc Bas, Director of the IUCN EU Representative Office in Brussels.
The European Tree of the Year Award Ceremony will take place in Brussels the 22 April 2015, bringing together the winners, organizers, partners, stakeholders and supporters of the contest.