An oak tree that improbably stands in the middle of a football stadium on the island of Saaremaa has become the European tree of the year.
With 200,000 people across Europe voting in February to choose from 14 trees, arborist Heiki Hanso walked 165 kilometers from Tallinn to Saaremaa, to encourage people to vote for the oak tree, and it quickly became a favorite.
Estonia's entry received 60,000 votes, with a great plane tree in Tata, Hungary coming second, and third going to a Spanish poplar pollard, according to the results announced late last night.
"The 150-year oak stands in the middle of a football stadium that was built in 1951," notes the press release from treeoftheyear.org. "For the locals this is a common thing. The students know how to use the tree to complete passes and it offers shade to the players."
Hanso, the entry coordinator, said: “This contest really joined people together and made us all feel the importance of trees for our community." The winners will attend the award ceremony in Brussels on April 22.
The tree has previously figured in a domestic competition, being one of seven finalists for "wonder of Estonia."