Trees like to look good, not only during spring and fall, when flowers bloom and the leaves dyeing orange and red, but also when an important competition comes up, like the annual European championship that from 2011 (the year of its first edition) elects the European Tree of the Year who created a link between the different European peoples and the community with the green crown. Extraordinary trees due to their beauty or stately, cause of their role in local history, survived to terrible weather or to the threat of urbanization, challenge each other to be elected – with the popular consent of the online votes – as the representative of the roots of the European continent
This year the challengers for the title were 16 of which the most coming from UK, but the winner who clearly posted others, has a Polish passport, 650 years of history weighing on its branches, and is an oak called Jósef. Situated in Krakow and printed since 1934 on banknotes of 100 Polish zlotys, received more than 17,000 votes out of a total of 125,000 voters. To decree the victory has been sufficient the evocation of a particular time in its hundred-year history: during the Second World War it gave shelter to a Jewish family that fled from Nazi persecution. An episode that, although belongs to the past, lends itself to be a symbol of an increasingly sophisticated link between different peoples and provides a concrete example of aid between man and nature even to the present times.
The awards ceremony – organized under the patronage of Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, and hosted by MEP Pavel Poc and Bronis Ropė – was celebrated last March 21 in Brussels, on the occasion of the International Day of Forests. In front of a large audience and on behalf of Oak Jósef, Robert Godek from Poland received the unique wooden amulet that passes from winner to winner every year. Jósef had a few problems to move….in agility! But after this honor, it’s ready to welcome even more visitors who will go to visit it attracted by its history.
Second and third placed tree of the event sponsored by the European Commission and a number of environmental groups, have been the five hundred Welsh Brimmon Oak and the Lime Tree at Lipka, Czech Republic.