The vote for the European Tree of the Year 2013 is now open on www.treeoftheyear.org. Trees from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia 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 stories of the finalists express the strength of the bonds between trees and people. “These trees, many of them hundreds of years old, have witnessed important historical in their community. They are tightly bound to a group of people, sometimes even the whole village.” says the coordinator of the contest Hana Rambousková of the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation.
A mulberry and two walnut trees growing in the Bulgarian village of Glushnik guard old secrets of the rebels from the Bulgarian Ottoman Liberation period. The legend has it that King Oak growing near the Charleville Estate in Tullamore, Ireland, is connected with the owners of the estate, the Hutton-Bury family. Once when the tree was struck by a lightning, one of the members of the family died only a few weeks later.
Children play under the treetop of the plane tree in the Polish village of Kozy; it serves as a place for dates as well as cultural and social events. Komjatice plane tree is said to be one of the biggest trees in Slovakia, a frequent motive for painters. A life-size picture of a part of the tree, drawn by local children, decorates the local school.
“When people establish a relationship to the trees in their neighbourhood, they realize that they need to take care of them or will risk losing them,” explains Hana Rambousková “This is the essence of the contest”.
The aim of the European Tree of the Year contest is to increase awareness of European trees and the historical and natural heritage which they represent.
The voting will end on 28 February and the contest organizer, Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation, will reveal the results on 1 March. The award ceremony will take place in Brussels in June.
The contest is organized under the patronage of Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment with the financial support of the State Environmental Fund, Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic and Tetra Pak. The contest is supported by IUCN and the European Landowners' Organization (ELO).
More information about the European Tree of the Year contest: www.treeoftheyear.org.
Hana Rambousková, European Tree of the Year coordinator, [email protected], 00420 515 903 131, 00420 775 856 359
Photos of the finalists trees to download: