Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Tree of the Year: Which one will you be rooting for?

By Linda Stewart

Six of our most magnificent trees have been shortlisted by the Woodland Trust in the hunt to find Northern Ireland's Tree of the Year.

Among the stunning trees are a glorious lime that sheltered Tony Blair, David Trimble and John Hume as they met in 1998 to broker a peace deal, along with the enchanting Dark Hedges, which feature in the HBO blockbuster Game of Thrones.

The Woodland Trust is now calling on the public to vote for their favourite tree from the final shortlist of six.

The winner will represent Northern Ireland against competitors from England, Scotland, Wales and elsewhere in Europe in the European Tree of the Year competition in early 2016.

The six specimens chosen by experts from a number of organisations include the Peace Tree, an oak in Woodvale Park, Belfast; the Dark Hedges in Stranocum; the Mulberry Tree in Castle Park, Bangor; the Tree of Witness at Enagh House in Co Londonderry; Moneypenny's Yew on the Newry Canal; and the Tree of Peace and Unity at Dunadry Hotel in Antrim.

Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust, said: "The trust in England, Scotland and Wales each took part in last year's competition, but this year is a first for Northern Ireland.

"We're extremely heartened by local feedback and would like to thank everyone who took the time to nominate a well-loved tree.

"Northern Ireland certainly has its share of precious veteran and ancient trees, each with a story to tell.

"They rustle with history and wildlife, and they make landscapes unique.

"This competition aims to give those amazing trees the attention and recognition they deserve.

"We want this to be an important step in safeguarding their future, so that - just like historic buildings - they'll be around for future generations to enjoy."

The UK is home to one of the largest populations of ancient trees in Europe, and more than 8,000 people have signed up to the Trust's Very Important Trees campaign to try and ensure all those of national special interest have better long-term protection from the threats posed by climate change, land development, pests and diseases.

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 winner in last year's competition was the 'Oak tree on a football field' in Estonia, with the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest reaching sixth place.

  • The charity is asking for your help to crown Northern Ireland's finest tree. Vote for your favourite one now, before Monday 12 October, at

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