People can vote for their favorite tree until Saturday, 29 February
Trees come in all shapes and forms, but they all have something in common — they are vital for our survival. They remember times past and witness events that drive the world, remaining calm and indifferent, providing shelter from the sun we need, as well as the air we breathe.
To select the most iconic tree in the whole continent, the European Partnership Association (EPA) has launched its 10th annual European Tree of the Year contest. Sixteen countries have taken part in the event this year and it is now up to people to pick the best one.
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Our contestant from the Netherlands has quite the story! A tree that is said to be the resting place of the leader of a smuggling gang and possible dabbler in magic, ‘Black Kate’. A magnificent beech called The Witch Tree. Have you voted yet? Check out the link in our Bio and cast your vote before it is too late!! #ETOTY2020 #TreeoftheYear #TreeStories #Netherlands #Beech Photo: @rob_visser_photography
The contest aims to highlight the significance of trees in the natural and cultural heritage of Europe. It emphasizes the importance of the ecosystem services trees provide. The organizers aren’t looking for the most beautiful tree, but for one with the most remarkable story.
Each of the trees featured in the contest holds astonishing memories. While the colossal 450-year-old Beech of Saint-Jammes remembers the turmoils of the French Revolution, Czech Pine from Chudobín still serves as a guardian of a flooded village, which ceased to exist due to the construction of a dam.
“We also need a new generation of future magnificent trees to be planted right now”
Some of the trees in the contest are more than a thousand years old. For instance, Spain has added the most aged three-legged oak in the world with an estimated age of 1,200 years. Similarly, Portugal has contributed with the Chestnut Tree from Vale, which belongs to the country’s oldest trees overall.
“Our contest is going to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, meaning it is getting mature and even older, so are our trees. This year we are gathering a high number of veteran trees among our finalists,” said EPA’s Josef Jary.
“It reminds us that we also need a new generation of future magnificent trees to be planted right now. We are already doing so by launching our new Czech campaign, Planting our Future, which aims to plant ten million trees.”
More than 310,000 votes were cast last year. This time the organizers are expecting an even greater turnout. The number of countries involved has reached sixteen, making the European Tree of 2020 one of the most widespread international contests on the continent.
People can submit their votes until the end of February on the official European Tree of the Year contest website.
Winners will be revealed on 17 March at the Award Ceremony at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Trees competing in the 10th annual Tree of the Year Europe
Here are a few examples of trees competing in this year’s Tree of the Year Europe contest. You can find the whole list here.
Tree of Freedom, Belgium
The horse chestnut tree in the town of Waret symbolizes the price of liberty and peace. It was planted in 1796 to celebrate the fall of the “tyrant” Louis XVI, and in 1807, the locals erected a stone at its foot to emphasize the tree’s character of tranquillity.
The Venerable Oak in Novo Selo Village, Bulgaria
Being at the very center of the Bulgarian village of Novo Selo, this 500-year-old oak has been a silent witness to the building of the new settlement established in the 1750s. To commemorate the village’s 260th anniversary in 2011, locals planted a small oak next to the old tree so that “the old man — while still alive — will hand down the story of Novo Selo to its younger heir”.
Ginkgo from Daruvar, Croatia
This Ginkgo tree named Adam has been growing by Daruvar’s castle for almost 250 years. It encourages passersby to spread their arms and hug its whole tree trunk. Next to Adam grows Eve, and together, the two trees embody and celebrate love and life in the city.
Guardian of the Flooded Village, Czech Republic
This majestic pine stands in the Vír dam as a reminder and a guardian of a once-thriving village of Chudobín that sacrificed itself for the construction of a reservoir. Strong winds blow through the Svratka valley, causing squeaking noises. Legend has it that it is a devil sitting under the tree at night playing the violin which makes the noises.
The Multisecular Beech of Saint-Jammes, Southern France
This colossal beech sculptural trunk has been watching the ruins of the pre-Romanesque chapel of St-Jammes for more than 450 years. It is the oldest tree in the Black Mountain, having survived strong local winds as well as the turmoils of the French Revolution.