This competition is a very simple way to demonstrate our appreciation of trees.
A sycamore laced with shoes, an oak bound in chains and a yew said to be more than 1,000 years old are among the contenders vying to be named England’s Tree of the Year 2020.
Ten trees have been shortlisted and members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite.
The Woodland Trust’s annual competition, now in its seventh year, shines a light on the nation‘s best trees to help drive up interest in their value and protection.
The Shoe Tree in Heaton Park, Newcastle, is a sycamore adorned with shoes thrown by students on completion of exams.
The Chained Oak in Alton, Staffordshire, was the inspiration for the Hex ride at Alton Towers, with legend stating that the Earl of Shrewsbury had the tree bound in chains after a curse warned that for every branch that fell, a member of the earl’s family would die.
A 150-year-old plane tree in Hackney, east London, called the Happy Man Tree, currently earmarked for felling to make way for housing, is also among the contenders.
It was nominated by parents and children who pass it on the school run, and believe it is vital that a tree which plays a part in making the air cleaner for the community is saved.
Another tree in the running is The Wilmington Yew in Wilmington, Sussex, which, growing among the graves, is more than 1,000 years old.
Completing the shortlist are The Marylebone Elm in Westminster, The Beltingham Yew in Northumberland, The Beech Tree in the Altar at Bayham Abbey, Kent, The Crouch Oak in Surrey, The Grantham Oak in Grantham, Lincolnshire, and The Remedy Oak in Dorset.
Darren Moorcroft, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, said: “Easily overlooked and routinely undervalued, trees deserve their moment in the sun.
“This competition is a very simple way to demonstrate our appreciation of trees.
“We had more than double the number of trees nominated by members of the public this spring compared to past years.
“This is perhaps no surprise given that lockdown had so many of us slowing down and taking more note of nature on our doorsteps, a boost for our mental health and wellbeing.
“At a time when we’re fighting both a climate and nature crisis, it is undeniable that trees are needed now more than ever.”
The Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year competition runs in England, Scotland and Wales, and each country will have its own winner.
Just one of the three national winners will be selected to represent the UK in the 2021 European Tree of the Year contest.
The public can look at the shortlist and cast a vote on the Woodland Trust website, with voting closing on September 24.
Catherine Wylie is a reporter with PA.