Saturday, March 9, 2019

European Tree of the Year 2019, Part 1


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I have previously posted a Bytes item on the European Tree of the Year competition, which has been running since 2011.  There are now 15 competing countries with the winner selected by public vote, with voting being in February. The winner is announced at an awards ceremony in late March held in the EU Parliament, Brussels. 

According to the official website: “In the European Tree of the Year contest, we are searching for the tree with the most interesting story.”

The winner is not necessarily the oldest, rarest, biggest or even the most beautiful specimen. Contest co-ordinator Andrea Krůpová: "We are searching for the most lovable tree, a tree with a story that can bring the community together. Trees are in the very heart of the European cultural landscape although they do not always have an easy life there. They deserve our attention and care."

Put simply, what matters is the story the tree tells and the way people, the local communities, feel connected to it.

Website:

Past winners:
2018 - "Whistler cork oak tree" - Portugal
2017 - "Oak Józef" - Poland
2016 - "The oldest tree of Bátaszék" - Hungary
2015 - "Oak tree on a football field" - Estonia
2014 - "The Old Elm", Bulgaria
2013 - "Plane tree in Eger" - Hungary
2012 - "The Old Lime Tree of Felsőmocsolád" - Hungary
2011 - "Lime in Leliceni" – Romania

The UK's most successful tree in the contest is the Brimmon Oak, finishing 2nd in 2017.

The winner this year will be announced on 19 March 2019, this year’s finalists being . . .
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Tree:
The Our Lady Tree of Lummen
Country:
Belgium
Species:
European Beech
Age:
Unknown
The tree’s story (the stories are from the website):
A place of worship and community
This monumental red beech stands on a high mound in a protected park behind the Our Lady chapel in the village of Lummen. In the early 17th century, an old beech had a statue of Mary that was worshipped. When the statue mysteriously vanished in 1641, a chapel was built and the original tree cut down. The faithful took pieces of the tree as relics and the wood was used to carve images of Mary. The current tree stands in the proud tradition of its ancestor.




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Tree:
The venerable Turkey oak near Rani lug village
Country:
Bulgaria
Species:
Turkey oak
Age:
More than 300 years
The tree’s story:
The impressive venerable Turkey oak grows near St. Nicholas Church. The locals take great pride in this beautiful tree, which creates a unique environment by the 15th century church. The church was home to the first local school, established in 1859. The village is in the Tran region, which is renowned for having preserved the most ancient names of its settlements. “Rani lug” tells more about local geography and nature. “Rani” means “early”, while “lug” means “meadow” and “marshland”.



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Tree:
Gubec linden
Country:
Croatia
Species:
Large-leaved Linden
Age:
Around 500 years
The tree’s story:
A witness of a Battle for justice
This ancient linden is a living witness of the Great Peasant Revolt that took place in 1573. According to the legend Matija Gubec gathered his followers beneath its canopy and led them into a fight for their class rights. Due to its age and historical significance the linden was declared a protected natural monument. The fact that the Croatian Forest Research Institute Jastrebarsko has grown the seedlings of Gubec linden using vegetative propagation method proves how valuable it is to our people.




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Tree:
Lime tree of liberty
Country:
Czech Republic
Species:
Large-leaved Lime
Age:
100 years
The tree’s story:
Lime at the Crossroads of History
When Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918, people in Velké Opatovice planted 16 Lime trees of Liberty: symbols of independence, democracy and the end of WWI. One of them was the Lime tree in Zádvoří. It was planted by a local patriot and pacifist Jan Pospíšil after he had come back home from the First World War. Only his tree has survived until today in the middle of the crossroad of five streets. Both the German and Red Army marched around the lime at the end of WWII, and the lime became a symbol of Czech freedom and resilience.




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Tree:
The Bird Tree
Country:
France
Species:
Cork oak
Age:
200-230 years
The tree’s story:
The protective cork oak "Arburacellu" of Ghisonaccia
The outline of a bird of prey spreading its wings: The unusual shape of the trunk of this Corsican cork oak is thought to have been caused by a fire, as shown by its calcined heart. An element of mystery remains though: when you approach its wings, there comes a growing feeling of protection, then walk a few steps further and this fleeting feeling is gone. Does the bird-tree have magical powers? Thanks to all its protectors, this tree, though exposed to elements, should enliven the wild landscape of Ghisonaccia in Eastern Corsica for a long time yet.



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Tree:
The Almond Tree of the Snowy Hill in Pécs
Country:
Hungary
Species:
Almond tree
Age:
135 years
The tree’s story:
Symbol of eternal renewal
The almond tree in front of the the Church of Our Lady of the Snow has been delighting its visitors for 135 years. The almond blossoming has been a symbol of eternal renewal and education since Bishop Janus Pannonius wrote his poem about an almond tree in 1466. Standing on white rocks, defying the winds, this old tree was already being mentioned with love 100 years ago, and the wonderful panorama of the magical landscape and the imprint of the historical ages has astonished many more since.




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Tree:
Raudonė Castle Lime
Country:
Lithuania
Species:
Small-leaved lime
Age:
Unknown
The tree’s story:
Wonderful seven-trunk witness of serfdom
This small-leaved lime grows near the castle of Raudonė. There is a metal rod in between two of its trunks at a height of about 3 meters. According to legend, seven serfs were tied to the rod and beaten to death, and so the lime split into seven trunks from great pain. The trunk of the lime branches up into several trunks that split into two or more parts. The branches are like the hands of the tormented people, reaching up to 30 m height.



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Par,t 2 tomorrow.


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