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Local arborist walks 165 km to promote Estonia's Tree of the Year contest entry

Arborist Heiki Hanso is walking 165 kilometers from Tallinn to Saaremaa, to encourage people to vote for the Orissaare oak tree that is in the running for the 2015 European Tree of the Year award. Both the hike and the public vote will come to an end on Saturday, February 28.

Hanso set off from Tallinn a few days ago, dragging along a small make-shift cart with a model of the oak tree, which grows in the center of a football field in Orissaare, and small figures of arborists and footballers on it. Hanso's journey can be followed live here.

Those inspired by his effort can vote for the Orissaare oak tree at

The oak tree, Estonia's first ever entry in the European Tree of the Year competition, is one of 14 shortlisted trees. Before the voting went secret on February 21, Estonia was vying for the first place alongside Hungary's sycamore tree on the banks of the Old Lake of Tata.

If a vigorous media campaign might seem a little odd for such a contest, it is really very much the opposite. 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. The contest went pan-European in 2011 and aims to highlight the significance of old trees in the natural and cultural heritage that deserves care and protection.

So the fact that the activists in Estonia and Hungary have managed to mobilize tens of thousands of people to vote for their entries is very much in line with the general aims of the competition: raising awareness and strengthening community relations.

The results of the contest will be published on March 5.

(Photo: Elina Kalm)

(Photo: Elina Kalm)

(Photo: ERR)

Editor: M. Oll

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