Until the 6th March you can vote in the international European Tree of the Year contest. Five trees from five countries are in the running (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia). The winning tree will be announced at a ceremony at the IUCN European Union Representative Office in Brussels during Greenweek 2011 (24 – 27 May).
The trees include planes from Bulgaria and Hungary, oaks from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and a lime tree from Romania. The contest is not just about beauty and age each of the 5 trees have a remarkable story or legend attached to them. "They are considered symbols of the villages and towns where they are located “We can see that they are a part of the every-day community life from all the events, celebrations, weddings and concerts that take place underneath every day” explains Hana Rambouskova from the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation.
By bringing the trees’ stories to life through this competition the aim is to highlight the issue of trees and forests among the general public, particularly relevant in the International Year of Forests. "Through the natural emulation the contest can change people’s relationship to the environment that they live in and draw attention to the local natural heritage. This project is a very good example of how to communicate a difficult issue like biodiversity towards the general public "says Ladislav Miko, former Czech minister of Environment and Deputy Director General of DG SANCO.
The European Tree of the Year Contest relates to the well-established Czech Tree of the Year contest that is organized by the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation. “In 2011 we will organize the tenth year of the contest. It is very popular in the Czech Republic, every year there are about 50 thousand people voting in the contest. Therefore we decided to spread the idea into other European countries,” says Hana Rambousková and adds that next year France, Ireland and Poland will join the contest as well.
The project is organized under the patronage of Mr Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment and is organized by the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation together with the Czech State Environmental Fund and the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic. IUCN is supporting the competition by hosting the award ceremony in Brussels.
To vote for your favourite tree please visit the website.