They’re your childhood climbing frame, a canopy to shelter from the rain, a shady place to have a picnic; they offer sanctuary, fruit, a home for wildlife, protection against flooding and pollution, and an insight into the hidden history of the land – we are, of course, talking about trees.
In this year’s edition of the annual contest organized by the Woodland Trust, a non-profit headquartered in Lincolnshire, England, 13 of the UK’s very best trees will compete to be crowned “Tree of the Year.”
From trees that have narrowly avoided destruction through arson, wartime bombing, and city-council-mandated felling, to trees that have shaded royalty, the Woodland Trust’s panel of tree experts has shortlisted 12 of the UK’s top trees in urban locations, and a thirteenth tree has been nominated by the public.
“Ancient trees in towns and cities are vital for the health of nature, people and planet,” Naomi Tilley, lead campaigner at the Woodland Trust, said in a press release. “They give thousands of urban wildlife species essential life support, boost the UK’s biodiversity and bring countless health and wellbeing benefits to communities.”
According to a 2020 study, ancient trees are in global decline. Despite their demonstrated resilience across centuries, ancient trees might struggle to adapt to the rapid environmental and climatic shifts anticipated in the years ahead.
“Most ancient trees aren’t protected by law,” continued Tilley. “And those in urban areas are particularly vulnerable, like one of this year’s nominees – which narrowly escaped being cut down by Sheffield City Council in 2017.”
Voting for the Woodland Trust’s 2023 Tree of the Year is open to the public until Sunday, October 15 and the winner will be announced on Thursday, October 19.