The search is on for England’s most prestigious tree, with the Woodland Trust asking people across Bedfordshire to find a contender to become the English ‘Tree of the Year’, which will ultimately do battle with Europe’s finest in the conservation world’s equivalent of Eurovision - the European Tree of the Year competition.
It is a contest the charity is more confident of winning, as England has one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of ancient and veteran trees in Europe, the oldest of which date back to before the creation of the Domesday Book.
Over 600 special trees in Bedfordshire have been recorded on the Trust’s ancient tree inventory, including the Domesday Oak in Woburn Park.
The tree does not have to be ancient – a favourite tree of any age, size or species can be nominated as long as it is located in England. Whether it has a personal connection, a link to a significant date in history, a link to historical figure, or for any other reason; all are eligible. Later in the year the charity will create a shortlist from all entries and the public will be given the chance to vote which tree to put forward for England’s Tree of the Year.
The Trust hopes that the competition will be a platform for individual trees of importance to be given greater protection and support, as many remain at risk from development, disease and vandalism.
Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive, added: “Many trees that we take for granted in our everyday lives have stood the test of time and have so many stories to tell. We want people to give these cherished trees the recognition they deserve by nominating them in this contest.
“This could be the first step towards providing these trees and the woods they inhabit with far greater protection to ensure they have a chance of standing long into the future.”
The Trust has already launched contests in Scotland and Wales whose trees, along with the English winner, will be entered in the European Tree of the Year competition in spring 2015. The competition has been running across Europe since 2011, with tens of thousands of votes cast every year.
Find out more about the nomination process or submit an entry at woodlandtrust.org.uk