Members of the public are being urged to nominate stunning trees with fascinating stories to compete in the Tree of the Year contest.
Organisers of the annual competition, now in its sixth year, are looking for special trees ranging from national landmarks or markers of significant events, to a village’s oldest inhabitant.
The Woodland Trust, which runs the Tree of the Year contest with support from the People’s Postcode Lottery, said entries will be shortlisted by a panel of experts before facing a public vote.
One winning tree will go on to compete in the European Tree of the Year competition in early 2020.
Shortlisted trees could be eligible for up to £1,000 of tree care products and services to help secure their future and celebrate them.
Last year’s English winner, Nellie’s Tree – three beech trees grafted together into the shape of the letter N to woo a sweetheart named Nellie – represented the UK in the European contest.
But no UK tree has managed to scoop the top European prize, with Wales’ Brimmon Oak, which was saved from being felled for a bypass, coming closest with second place in 2017.
Lead campaigner at the Woodland Trust, Kaye Brennan, said: “Tree of the Year has helped discover lots of amazing trees – but nothing so far that could beat the best in the European contest.
“We know that we have some of the most incredible trees in the world – but we need the public’s support to find them, and vote for a winner.
“Tell us your tree’s stories. What do trees mean to you? Why are they important to you? What is the best known, most loved, tree in your city, town or village and why?”
She added: “You can also share your special trees on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #TreeOfTheYear.”
The Woodland Trust said the Tree of the Year contest helps highlight the importance of trees in the landscape.
In many countries old trees are listed as natural monuments and can have the same protection as listed buildings, but this is not the case in the UK.
But campaigning has helped shift English planning policy to ensure that planning permission that could result in loss or damage to ancient woods or trees should be refused except in “wholly exceptional” circumstances, the Trust said.
Sanjay Singh, senior programmes manager with People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We’d like to encourage the public to get involved with the annual Tree of the Year competition and we are certain that once again they will help to highlight some amazing trees with wonderful stories.”
Any individual, group or organisation can nominate a tree and share its story at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/tree-of-the-year-2019/ from May 7 2019 until July 19 2019.