Dunin Oak, known as the “Guardian of the Białowieża Forest”, was announced the European Tree of the Year. The tree received over 179,000 votes. The results of the competition were announced on Tuesday in Brussels.
The victorious tree is 400 years old. It grows in Przybudki in the Narew commune (Podlaskie Voivodeship), on the edge of the Białowieża Primeval Forest. For centuries it has been admired both by the local population and the crowds of tourists visiting this region of Poland. In 2021, Dąb Dunin won the Polish edition of the Tree of the Year competition organized by Klub Gaja and thus secured its participation in the European competition.
– It is a great success for Polish nature and the people involved in the competition. […] This is how we jointly build social capital around trees and remind us of the values that trees bring with them. Natural, cultural or historical. Especially the old ones. They remind us of who we are and what we should care for – said Jacek Bożek, founder and head of Klub Gaja.
The record of votes was broken
This year’s competition was attended by 16 of the most interesting trees from all over Europe, which won in national competitions. All of them have unique stories and the fact that they are an important part of the local community. During this year’s plebiscite, which lasted throughout February, Internet users cast over 769,000 votes, thus setting another voting record for the European Tree of the Year. In connection with the attack by Russian troops on Ukraine, which coincided with the last week of the competition, the organizers decided to exclude the Russian candidate from participation and not to count the votes sent to this tree.
The European Tree of the Year 2022 awards ceremony was preceded by the Planting4Future working conference, which concerned the European Commission’s plan to plant three billion additional trees by 2030.
The European Tree of the Year competition was launched in 2011. Its organizer is the Environmental Partnership Association (EPA) based in Brussels. In Poland, the organizer of the national Tree of the Year competition is Klub Gaja. The aim of the competition is to draw attention to interesting, old trees as important elements of the natural and cultural heritage that we should value and protect.
Main photo source: Agencja Wschod / Forum