The Woodland Trust is searching for the most loved, visually stunning tree, with the most fascinating story, for Tree of the Year 2019.
Tree of the Year 2018 - Nellie's Tree (Photo: Rob Grange / WTML)
Now in its sixth year, Tree of the Year highlights and celebrates special trees across the UK. A tree may be a village's oldest inhabitant, a founding figure in a region's identity, or a landmark in the nation's story.
If it's phenomenal-looking too, then that's even better! Any individual, group or organisation can nominate a tree and share its story at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear/ from now until 19 July 2019. The entries will then be shortlisted by a panel of independent experts before facing a public vote.
It could be a majestic, knobbly, knotted centuries-old oak planted at the time of the War of the Roses, that's endured the ravages of time. It might be a mighty beech tree grown from a seed planted by a child in the field behind their house. Whatever the species, whatever the story, it's what sets it apart from the rest the Trust wants to hear.
Last year's English winner, Nellie's Tree - three beech trees grafted together into the shape of the letter 'N' - from Aberford near Leeds, stole hearts with its century-old story of love and courtship. Nellie's Tree went on to represent the UK in the European contest based in Brussels.
Lead campaigner at the Woodland Trust, Kaye Brennan, said:
"Tree of the Year has helped discover lots of amazing trees - but nothing so far that could beat the best in the European contest. We know that we have some of the most incredible trees in the world - but we need the public's support to find them, and vote for a winner. Tell us your tree's stories. What do trees mean to you? Why are they important to you? What is the best known, most loved tree in your city, town or village and why?
"You can also share your special trees on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #TreeOfTheYear."
In many countries old trees are listed as natural monuments and they and their immediate environment can have the same level of legal protection and financial management support as listed buildings. This is not the case across the UK, although the Trust's campaign to improve protection for our oldest and most important trees from development resulted in a shift in English planning policy, which now states that planning permission that could result in the loss or damage to ancient woods or ancient and veteran trees should be refused except in 'wholly exceptional' circumstances.
Shortlisted trees could potentially be eligible for up to £1,000 of tree care products and services to help secure their future and celebrate their importance, thanks to support from players of People's Postcode Lottery.
Sanjay Singh, senior programmes manager with People's Postcode Lottery, said:
"We'd like to encourage the public to get involved with the annual Tree of the Year competition and we are certain that once again they will help to highlight some amazing trees with wonderful stories. We would like to thank all of the players of People's Postcode Lottery who have done their part in supporting this search for, and celebration of, the nation's most interesting and visually stunning trees."
One tree to be awarded a care package was the Parliament Oak that was shortlisted in 2017.
Ian Major, community heritage landscape manager, at the Sherwood Forest Trust said:
"All trees are special, but we have connection to trees that should be celebrated. Tree of the Year is a great way for anyone to celebrate a tree that is special to them. Sherwood Forest has hundreds of ancient oaks and many amazing trees, some with stories, others with special memories to the public.
"We got good support from the Woodland Trust and being shortlisted helped our tree and increased the visibility of our organisation. Even though the Parliament Oak didn't win, this ancient oak benefitted from a £500 care award.
"The money can be spent in many ways, at your discretion, a celebration or a survey for instance. The Sherwood Forest Trust wholeheartedly recommend that you nominate your favourite tree."
The winner of Tree of the Year 2019 will represent the UK in the battle for European Tree of the Year in early 2020.