The mighty Gilwell Oak in Gilwell Park, Epping has been crowned as England and UK’s Tree of the Year for 2017.
Organised by conservation charity The Woodland Trust, the Gilwell Oak received 26% of nearly 7,000 public votes, outcompeting 28 other shortlisted trees, including The Witch’s Broom Tree in Surrey, The Courageous Tree in Cumbria, and the Crowhurst Yew in East Sussex.
As the winner, the tree will receive a £1,000 tree care award. Previous winners have used the money in different ways – for arboricultural health checks and educational materials, or sometimes for a celebratory event in honour of the tree.
Following its award, the oak will also be entered into the European Tree of the Year competition in early 2018.
“Our competition aims to highlight and celebrate our country’s remarkable trees, and to ultimately ensure they are given the recognition and protection they deserve. The passion shown by the people who nominated trees, and the way the public get behind them in the voting process shows how much of an inspiration trees are to people,” said Woodland Trust chief executive Beccy Speight.
Young scouts celebrate with the Tree of the Year award in front of the Gilwell Oak ©Martyn Milner
The story of the Gilwell Oak
The towering oak sits in the middle of Gilwell Park in Epping, home of the scouting movement, set in motion by Robert Baden Powell. Powell adopted the tree in 1929 as a message to young scouts that big things are possible from modest starts. Today, there are 10 million volunteer Scout Leaders and 40 million Scouts worldwide, all developing skills in leadership, planning, teamwork and resilience.
“Scouting is all about helping young people develop skills for life. The Gilwell Oak has been the backdrop to hundreds of courses in which thousands of Volunteer leaders have been inspired and motivated to change young people’s lives in the UK and across the world. It’s the unbending symbol of Scouting’s desire to change the world for the better,” said Bear Grylls Chief Scout.
The Gilwell Oak received 26% of public votes to win the 2017 Tree of the Year ©Woodland Trust
Three more tremendous trees
The Gilwell oak wasn’t the only tree to gain recognition in this year’s competition.
The Erskine House Tree in Belfast – a descendent of the famous Greek ‘Plane Tree of Kos’ – was voted Northern Ireland’s Tree of the Year.
The Erskine House Tree in Belfast acts as an oasis of calm for city dwellers ©Michael Cooper
The Big Tree in Kirkwall, Orkney – used as a meeting place by Orcadians for generations – clinched Scotland’s top spot.
The Big Tree in Orkney is a 200-year-old sycamore ©Mark Ferguson
While the Hollow Tree in Neath Port Talbot, recently fitted with supporting bars, triumphed in Wales.
The Hollow Oak is surrounded by an 18th-Century landscaped garden ©Mark Zytynski
Would you like to know more about how to identify British trees? Here’s our guide.
To find out more about the Gilwell Oak and the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year, visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk.
Main image ©Woodland Trust