More than 200 people attended the 2017 European Tree of the Year Ceremony at the European Parliament. Organized annually at European level since 2011, the European Tree of the Year is a contest that highlights the significance of trees in the natural and cultural heritage of Europe, and the importance of the ecosystem services that trees provide. The contest is not looking for the most beautiful tree, but for a tree with a story; a tree rooted in the lives and work of the people and the community that surround it.
This year’s winner was Polish Oak Jozef, crowned 2017 European Tree of the Year with more than 17,000 votes, followed by Welsh Brimmon Oak, and the Czech Lime Tree at Lipka.
Oak Józef gave shelter to two Jewish brothers during World War II, who used its hollow trunk as a hideout. The oak’s image was also printed on the Polish 100 złoty bill in the 1930s. Oak Józef receives many visitors and it is likely that it will receive many more now that it has been crowned European Tree of the Year. Robert Godek, Head of the Strzyżów District Council, Poland, received the unique wooden trophy that passes from winner to winner on behalf of Oak Józef.
During the month of February, everyone can choose their favourite trees by voting online at www.treeoftheyear.org. Every year, winners are celebrated in Brussels, in a cultural and festive evening bringing together tree lovers, decision-makers, environmentalists, landowners, and national organisers. In 2017, Karmenu VELLA, European Commissioner for Environment, renewed his support and offered his patronage to the Award Ceremony. Ladislav MIKO and Natalie PAUWELS moderated the ceremony for the second time . Daniel CALLEJA-CRESPO, Director General for Environment at the European Commission addressed participants and said, “The European Tree of the Year initiative has an important role to play in showcasing Europe's wonderful diversity and fostering shared values among European citizens. Every year, thousands of Europeans take part, demonstrating their common connection to the natural environment."
Oak Józef, European Tree of the Year 2017
Photo: Rafal Godek