European Tree of the Year
Organized annually at European level since 2011, the European Tree of the Year is a contest that highlights the significance of trees in the natural and cultural heritage of Europe, and the importance of the ecosystem services that trees provide. The contest is not looking for the most beautiful tree, but for a tree with a story; a tree rooted in the lives and work of the people and the community that surround it.
During the month of February, everyone can choose their favourite trees by voting online at www.treeoftheyear.org. Every year, winners are celebrated in Brussels, in a cultural and festive evening bringing together tree lovers, decision-makers, environmentalists, landowners, and national organisers. Daniel CALLEJA-CRESPO, Director General for Environment at the European Commission addressed participants and said, “The European Tree of the Year initiative has an important role to play in showcasing Europe’s wonderful diversity and fostering shared values among European citizens. Every year, thousands of Europeans take part, demonstrating their common connection to the natural environment.”
The prestigious title of the European Tree of the Year went to the Czech Republic to the pine called the Guardian of the Flooded Village. It left the other rivals far behind with a total of 47,226 votes. The Silver medal went to Croatia, where the Gingko from Daruvar obtained 28,060 votes. Close behind in third place the Russian Kalmykia can celebrate with the local Lonely Poplar ending up with 27,411 votes. A total of 285,174 votes were cast during the popular contest this year.
The coronavirus pandemic moved the announcement of the results to the internet. The final order and video of the announcement can be found at www.treeoftheyear.org. The announcement of the results, which traditionally takes place in the European Parliament in Brussels, went online this year. “We wondered how to convey the joy of the results to sixteen European communities. Finally, we combined the tree stories and personal testimonies of the first three finalists to a video that cannow be watched and shared among tree fans across borders,” summarizes Josef Jary from the Environmental Partnership Association, the contest organiser.
The 350-year-old winner grows on the rocky headland of the dam. Its story relates to the flooded village of Chudobín, which ceased to exist due to the construction of a dam. According to a legend narrated by locals, a devil sat under the pine in the night and played the violin. However, it is much more likely that they were hearing the strong winds blowing over the valley. This pine tree is not only an important landmark but also an impressive testimony to its high resistance to climate change and human impact.
The contest was organised by the Environmental Partnership Association and the European Landowners’Organisation under the auspices of MEPs Ludek Niedermayer and Michal Wiezik.
The winner of the European Tree of the Year 2019 contest, organised under the patronage of Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, was unveiled in Brussels on March 19. The Award Ceremony in the European Parliament was held under the auspices of MEP Pavel POC, vice-chair of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety at the European Parliament. The evening was moderated by Natalie Pauwels and Ladislav Miko from the European Commission and gained wide public interest as well as the attendance of Brussels environmental stakeholders.
The Award Ceremony crowned the Almond tree of the Snowy Hill in Pécs, a Hungarian symbol of eternal renewal, as the winner. The awards ceremony was organised by the Environmental Partnership Association and the European Landowners’ Organisation who are engaged in promoting a healthy environment in our cities and countryside, with support from the South Moravian Region, Mendel University in Brno and the S&D group from European Parliament.
Josef Jary, Communication officer : [email protected]
Andrea Krupova, Contest coordinator: [email protected]
Winners 2020 : Pine Guardian of the Flooded Villagein Czech Republic
Winners 2019 : The Almond Tree of the Snowy Hills in Pécs, Hungary. A symbol of eternal renewal.
Winners 2018 : Whistler Cork Oak of Águas de Moura, Alentejo, Portugal. Nicknamed the Whistler thanks to the multitude of birds that perch on its branches.
Winners 2017 : Polish Oak Jozef : Oak Józef gave shelter to two Jewish brothers during World War II, who used its hollow trunk as a hideout.
For the complete list of previous winners please check here
Almond Tree of the Snowy Hills in Pécs, Hungary