Heiki Hanso, the coordinator of the European Tree of the Year contest in Estonia, has accepted the annual award in Brussels – on behalf of the tree.
The Orissaare tree won the contest in March with 60,000 votes. Nearly two hundred thousand people from all over Europe took part in the voting.
The 150-year-old oak tree stands in the middle of a football field, which was enlarged in 1951 and therefore surrounds the tree completely. Local players have become accustomed to it and know how to use the tree to complete passes. It also offers shade to the players. There is a legend which says that two of Stalin´s tractors tried to pull the tree out of the ground, but the cables kept breaking.
“We went to accept the award in Brussels on behalf of the oak - its absence is excused,” Hanso told ERR. “It's an honor and a good PR for Saaremaa, because many media outlets in Belgium and across Europe mentioned the contest.”
However, Hanso also expressed concern. “The oak is rotting and is hollow inside, but hopefully it will last at least another 20 years. Part of the reason why we submitted it to the contest, was that we wanted to organize a “grand send-off” - and as it happened, it became the most famous tree in Europe this year.”
The European Tree of the Year contest was launched in 2011 and it aims to highlight the significance of old trees in the natural and cultural heritage that deserves care and protection.
The contest is organized by the Environmental Partnership Association and the Estonian entry was nominated by the Estonian Chamber of Arborists.
Editor: S. Tambur