Saturday, May 12, 2018

Eurotree

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As Eurovision heads towards the finale (Go Oz! Australia's Jessica Mauboy has made it to the grand final 💪), think about another Euro competition: the European Tree of the Year.  The topic came up in our weekly trivia competition where we were given a choice of four countries and asked which had won most times.  Trivia Master Graham suggested that the topic might make an interesting Bytes post and he was right.  Here it is.
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About:
  • The European Tree of the Year is an annual contest held to find the most 'loveable tree' in Europe. The contest is held by the Environmental Partnership Association (EPA), an organisation supported by the European Commission.

  • According to an organiser, the winner is not necessarily be 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. 
  • Participating countries select their National Tree of the Year, with public online voting then selecting the European Tree of the Year. 
  • The competition has been held since 2011. 
  • Btw, the country with the most wins is Hungary.

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Past winners:

Year:
2018
Country:
Portugal
Tree:
“Whistler cork oak tree”
(Commentaries from the European Tree of the Year awards)
The Whistler owes the name to the sound from countless birds that lay on its branches. Planted in 1783 in Águas de Moura, this cork oak has already been stripped more than twenty times. In addition to the contribution to the cork industry, it has huge relevance for ecosystem services and fighting climate change. With 234 years, the Whistler has been classified as "Tree of Public Interest" since 1988 and is registered in the Guinness Book of Records: "the largest cork oak in the world".


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Year:
2017
Country:
Poland
Tree:
“Oak Jozef”
The special history of Oak Józef is linked to the place where it is growing. The Mycielski family was so charmed by the beauty of the area that they bought a mansion there. The mansion became a cultural and intellectual centre of the region. During WWII the oak became shelter for a Jewish family hiding from the Nazis. Also the oak’s image was printed on Polish 100 złoty bill. Presently oak Józef is admired by many visitors and serves as model for photos and paintings.


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Year:
2016
Country:
Hungary
Tree:
"The oldest tree of Bátaszék
The oak of Bátaszék survived as a memory of a forest from the 18th century and the chapel behind it was built at the time of the plague. The tree and the chapel guard the settlement and its people who also found protection here during the flood of 1956. The local farmers have always looked after the tree: they cut the dry branches and painted the stump to protect it from diseases. According to local tradition, the trunk of oak has to be sprinkled with wine in order to ensure next year’s rich grape harvest.


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Year:
2015
Country:
Estonia
Tree:
"Oak tree on a football field"
Is there a place in the world where you can find a stadium which has an oak tree in the middle of it? For the locals in Orissaare its a common thing, but this tree is at heart of the community. Before 1951 there was a small sporting area beside the oak tree, and when it was expanded the tree ended up in the middle of the stadium. Legend says two of Stalin´s tractors tried to pull it out of the ground, but the cables kept breaking. It still has marks from the cables. Students know how to use the tree to complete passes, and it offers shade to the players.


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Year:
2014
Country:
Bulgaria
Tree:
“The Old Elm”
The Old Elm is a main symbol of Sliven. It is a centuries-old silent witness of the city's turbulent and heroic past. Events organised around it on occasions of historic and community significance have turned it into a major marker. It is the place where mood of the city used to be measured. Public demonstrations and parades used to pass by the tree. Today most people arrange their important meetings by the tree. It remains the most definitive orientation marker for newcomers to the city. It is also part of the city coat of arms and will remain a historic marker for future generations.


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Year:
2013
Country:
Hungary
Tree:
"Plane tree in Eger"
Several remarkable tree species thrive in the environs of the Eger thermal spa: under the special climatic conditions they develop fast and grow high. From among these extraordinary trees an Eastern Sycamore was nominated in the contest. The legend has it that in 1552, during the successfully defended Turkish attack against the Eger castle the Turk army was directed from under this tree. Unfortunately the legend is not true, this tree was planted together with many others at the time when Karoly Eszterhazy was the bishop of the city (18th c.) The nominators are taking good care of all trees in the area with the help of fireworkers. The tree is protected since 1978.


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Year:
2012
Country:
Hungary
Tree:
"The Old Lime Tree of Felsőmocsolád"
Legend has it that many years ago, after a devastating forest fire, this 400 year old lime tree gave the seeds to revive the woods, with the help of a “garabonciás” (in Hungarian mythology a male figure who learnt magic). The story says that the tree has become one with the garabonciás and now protects the forest with magic power. This story  was preserved by the Bánó family, who were living in the area. It is still a tradition for them that the youngest family members are introduced to the "old man". And when the little ones are able to climb the tree, they can do the trial: climbing up to the top in the hollows of the tree to take a look at the wonderful gift of nature that was always renewing the forest.


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Year:
2011
Country:
Romania
Tree:
"Lime in Leliceni"
The five hundred years old lime tree grows at the legs of the “Bocskorok hegye” hill, in Leliceni village, Harghita County. It is about 20 metres high and the girth of its trunk is 390 cm. There is only a little information about the tree, but it was probably planted at the beginning of the 16th Century. The stem was surrounded by wooden logs because this was the place where people discussed the main problems of the village. This tradition lives even these days, only that the clamps were changed with wooden benches.
Over the centuries and nowadays the linden tree was witness to several tragic events. The village from the Banatus valley, in the vicinity of the tree and the church, was attacked by tartars in 1661 that destroyed the village. After a few decades, the tartars returned, but the tree and the church – this time - remained intact. The legend says that the bullet of the enemy rebounds, killing him. There is a monument in the village which reminds of the tartars’ attack. At the top of the monument, the cross is placed that was decorating the church by the time it had no tower. With the occasion of the construction of the church the cross was transferred to the monument, changing it from a pagan objective to a Christian one. The church gets its final form in 1806 and the linden tree is guarding it until the present days.
According to the written documents the tree survived several catastrophes that come upon the village. Long drought started in 1717 and lasted for 17 months, in this period no drop of rain fell and the sun was hot; the wells and rivers were dried, people were forced to leave the village. Everything except for the tree dried, probably because it was already deeply rooted in the earth. In years 1854 and 1871 there were hail storms that destroyed all the crops and affected the church and its surroundings. The tree survived again. Local people believe that the linden tree was planted in a lucky place because it survived long period of drought, hail storms, fires and as well as the floods in 1864.
The tree became a symbol of the village and beside the respect of the inhabitants it earned also the respect of the local authorities. As a result, in 1992, the tree was declared as a nature monument. Due to this protection and respect it is possible that the tree will protect the church and the village for a long time.



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