The Peace Tree, recently crowned Northern Ireland’s best-loved tree, is now competing for votes in the European Tree of the Year contest, run by the Environmental Partnership Association1
The oak, in Belfast’s Woodvale Park, triumphed over five other worthy contenders2 last November to secure the title of Northern Ireland’s Tree of the Year, in a competition organised by the Woodland Trust.
It now faces stiff European competition, with 14 other splendid specimens, from as far away as Bulgaria and Estonia3, in the running.
Symbolic of peace and remembrance, the revered Peace Tree was planted in Empire Day in 1919 in honour of those who never returned home from the First World War.
It was jointly nominated by historian Bobby Foster and Sam Coulter.
Mr Foster said: “This remarkable and well-loved tree, almost a century old, became an important focal point for veterans for many years after the First World War.
“And more recently, in 2014, a European War Memorial was erected beside it, marking the huge loss of life on both sides of the war. Uniquely, the memorial remembers the deaths of German, French and Belgian soldiers, as well as the loss suffered by the British Expeditionary Force 1914.
“Essentially, we have two distinct tributes: one natural, living and ever-changing with the seasons, and one man-made. Yet both reinforce the same important message of peace and remembrance, and both will be at the heart of our community for centuries to come.”
Sam Coulter added: “We were absolutely delighted when the Peace Tree was voted Northern Ireland’s Tree of the Year and are truly grateful to everyone who took the time to vote. We’re appealing to people – right across the country – to, once again, give this tree the backing it deserves, helping to put Northern Ireland firmly on the map.”
The Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year competition aims to highlight and celebrate the country’s remarkable trees, and to ultimately ensure that these precious natural monuments are given the recognition and protection they deserve.
Patrick Cregg MBE, director of the Woodland Trust, said: “The enthusiasm of those who nominated local trees, together with the number of votes, was fantastic. And now, for the first time ever, we have a wonderful contender representing Northern Ireland in the European contest.
“Sam and Bobby are inspirational, as well as informative. Apparently, when the Peace Tree was planted at Woodvale, a sister tree was planted around the same time in Belfast’s Falls Park as a tribute to the soldiers from that area who were killed in the war. Unfortunately this sapling didn’t survive, and it’s recently been agreed by Belfast City Council that a new one will be planted in its place.”
To vote for the Peace Tree, head to www.treeoftheyear.org Voting ends on 29 February.
Notes to editors:
For further information contact Kaye Coates at the Woodland Trust’s Bangor Office on 028 9127 5787 or email@example.com
|1Environmental Partnership Association:|
Is a consortium of six foundations from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia supporting community based projects whose goal is to protect the environment and support local communities and society.
The European Tree of the Year contest, run by the Environmental Partnership Association since 2011, looks for ‘a tree with a story’ from countries across Europe. The 2015 winner was the ‘Oak tree on a football field’ in Estonia, with the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, the most successful UK contender, reaching sixth place.
2Northern Ireland’s six shortlisted trees (with votes announced November 2015):
Name of tree: Number of votes
The Peace Tree: oak at Woodvale Park, west Belfast 880
Tree of Witness: oak at Enagh House, Enagh Lough, Derry/Londonderry 791
The Dark Hedges: avenue of beech trees at Bregagh Road, Stranocum, Ballymoney 469
Tree of Peace and Unity: lime at Dunadry Hotel, Antrim 218
The Mulberry Tree: mulberry at Castle Park, Bangor 160
Moneypenny’s Yew: yew at Moneypenny’s Lock, Newry Canal, near Portadown 132
3European Tree of the Year contenders
The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters.
The Trust has three key aims:
- to protect ancient woodland, which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
- to restore damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
- to plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.
Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free. Further news can be found at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk
Here in Northern Ireland the Woodland Trust cares for 50 woods. These woods contain a mix of recently planted woodland, mature woodland and ancient woodland. The Trust has produced the first-ever comprehensive record of Northern Ireland’s ancient woodland; find out more at www.backonthemap.org.uk