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Estonian oak in the running for European Tree of the Year

A 150-year-old oak tree on a football field in Orissaare, Saaremaa, has been shortlisted for the European Tree of the Year 2015 award. The public voting will begin on Sunday.

The story about the tree, printed on the competition website, goes that 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 that 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.

The Orissaare oak is one of the youngest of the 14 shortlisted trees. A chestnut tree in Corsica, France, and the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England, for example, are estimated to be around 800-1000 years old. It is said that the latter's hollow trunk was used as a hideout by Robin Hood and his merry men. The Italian entry, an Olive tree from Canneto Sabino, is more than twice as old.

However, this does not diminish Orissaare's chances of winning. According to the organizers, the focus of the competition is not so much on the beauty, size or age of the trees, but rather on their stories and connection to the local and wider community.

So, member of the contest committee Rob McBride, who recently came to inspect the tree, said that the oak has a great potential: the fact that it is located on a football field could prove a hit with the football-loving voters from the UK and Ireland, where the contest is rather popular, reported the local Saarte Hääl.

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.

The voting takes place from February 1-28. Click here to find out more about the shortlisted trees.

Editor: M. Oll, S. Tambur

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