European Tree of the Year – The giants of the forest’s stories

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The European Tree of the Year competition is ten years old this year.  And 2020’s winning tree is a 350-year-old Scots Pine on the rocky headland of a dam in the Czech Republic.

Since 2010, Europeans have been voting in their thousands for their favorite trees in national competitions.  From these national competitions, the shortlist of trees for the European Tree of the Year is formed.

Voting then starts to find the tree of the year for the whole of Europe.  This year, voting ran from February 29, 2020, to March 17, 2020.

Trees with stories to tell

In the ten years since the contest was launched, 3.3 million people have cast their votes for their favorite European trees. 

The winning tree of 2020 is “guardian of the flooded village” – a lonely Scots Pine that sits atop the rocky headland of a dam in Vír in the Czech Republic.  As well as being around 350 years old, the pine is an important local landmark.

During the construction of the Vír dam, the village of Chudobín which sat in the valley behind the dam was flooded to make way for the new reservoir.  Local legend has it that the devil sat under the pine during the night and played the violin.

This story obviously resonated with voters as the guardian of the flooded village amassed 47,226 votes to win the European competition.  By contrast, the second-place tree – a Ginkgo from Daruvar in the Republic of Croatia – collected 28,060 votes.

Unlike the Tree of the Year competitions held in other continents, the European Tree of the Year does not focus on age or beauty.  Rather, the competition places emphasis on the stories that make the trees special to their local communities.

To get involved nationally, your country must run its own national Tree of the Year competition.  Winning trees are then entered into the European event.

The local communities around the 16 winning trees receive funding to protect and care for their trees. 

It’s also possible to get involved by helping to support the work of the environmental charities that run the Tree of the Year competition.