Pecs, Hungary – Great news for all the lovers of natural beauty and oddities! Trees from all four Central European countries have been shortlisted as finalists for the “European Tree of the Year” Award 2019.
In case you didn’t know that was a thing, the European Tree of the Year Award is a contest organized since 2011 by the Environmental Partnership Association, with the support of the European Landowners’ Organisation, to raise awareness about Europe’s local natural heritage and find the tree with the most interesting story across the continent.
And the best thing about it? You decide yourself who wins the coveted award: anyone can vote for two trees among the shortlisted ones directly on the website between February 1 to February 28. The final results will be announced at the Award Ceremony in Brussels on March 19. If you’d like to take part to the contest, it’s right here.
Fifteen trees from as many different European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain and the U.K.) are among the finalists this year. At the time of writing, the trees leading in the vote count was Russia’s Abramtsevo Oak (10.561 votes), closely followed by Hungary’s Almond Tree of the Snowy Hill in Pecs (10.507 votes), the Portuguese Secular Holm Oak from Monte Barbeiro (9.700 votes) and France’s bird-tree (8.477 votes).
With your support, Central European beautiful trees still stand a chance. And you should also know that they can already boast an impressive track-record: Hungary is the most decorated country in the history of the award, having won three times in 2012, 2013 and 2016 and coming second in 2015 and third in 2011. Poland also fared well in past editions, winning the European Tree of the Year award in 2017, coming second in 2013 and third the following year. And while Slovakia never managed to make it to the podium, the Czech Republic came in third in 2017. Last year, the award was won by a Portuguese tree.
Let’s start with the one that stands a good chance to win this year’s contest: Hungary’s Almond Tree of the Snowy Hill in the city of Pecs. This magnificent 135-year-old tree and its almond blossoming, located in front of the Church of Our Lady of the Snow, is “a symbol of eternal renewal and education”, set within a “a magical landscape” that has bewildered many visitors for more than a hundred years.
The Czech Republic’s Lime tree of Liberty (currently with 4.371 votes in its favor), was planted by local patriot and pacifist Jan Pospíšil at the end of World War I as a symbol of independence and democracy in Velke Opatovice, in South Moravia. There were originally 16 of them, but this one is the only one still standing, and has become “a symbol of Czech freedom and resilience”.
Slovakia’s Guardian of Great Moravia’s secrets is a 235 years old large-leaved lime located in Kopcany (5.936 votes at the time of writing) and standing next to an old church, “one of the oldest buildings of the Great Moravian period of Slovakia”. Together, they “create a typical sacred couple” that protect each other and have survived over more than two centuries side by side.
This year, Poland presented a 65-year-old ash-leaved maple, dubbed the Kneeling tree, located in the Lubelskie province. “A symbol of determination”, the tree was set to be cut down a few years ago because it was “unsightly and deformed”, but was eventually saved due to local opposition. “Today, it is a popular object for photographers, a playground for children as well as a common theme of artworks”. But above all, it symbolizes “a hope that does not allow itself to give up”.