Scotland's 'Survivor' rowan to represent Britain in European tree contest

A tenacious rowan tree in the south of Scotland has been selected to represent Great Britain in a competition to be crowned European Tree of the Year.

A rowan known as the Survivor, which grows in a valley near Moffat, has been chosen to represent Great Britain in 2021's European Tree of the Year contest
A rowan known as the Survivor, which grows in a valley near Moffat, has been chosen to represent Great Britain in 2021's European Tree of the Year contest

The rowan, dubbed ‘the Survivor’, once perched virtually alone in a valley at Carrifran, near Moffat.

Now, after dedicated conservation efforts by a community group over the past 20 years, it is surrounded by new young native trees

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In September it was named Scotland’s Tree of the Year in a contest run by the Woodland Trust conservation charity.

Members of the public chose the Survivor because it stands as a symbol of hope for woodland restoration.

It has now beaten off competition from the Chapter House Tree, at Port Talbot in Wales, and England’s Happy Man Tree, in London’s Hackney, to be named Great British Tree of the Year 2020.

As such, it will go forward to the European Tree of the Year competition, organised by the Environmental Partnership Association.

Voting will take place online in February

Community group Borders Forest Trust (BFT) took over the land at Carrifran in 2000 and has been working on regenerating the site.

BFT’s Fi Martynoga, who nominated the rowan, said: “This tree rapidly became a very important symbol of our aspirations to see this valley completely rewooded and restored to its natural vegetation.

“In this valley alone we have planted well over 600,000 trees. The beauty of it is they are now beginning to reproduce themselves.

“It shows how you can change an environment for the better, preserve and multiply what is around. I hope it can stand as a symbol for other people, that they can do the same thing.”

Will Humpington, advisor for climate change and environment at competition supporter People's Postcode Lottery, said: “I’m really pleased our players are supporting the Tree of the Year competitions, which continue to build a deeper connection between people and the nature that’s around them.

“The Survivor is a terrific symbol of what can be done and what needs to be done in our landscape as we face the challenges of climate change. We hope its message will now make an impact across Europe and beyond.”

On announcing the Survivor has been voted Scotland’s Tree of the Year, Woodland Trust Scotland director Carol Evans said that planting trees was one of the “obvious responses” to the climate crisis.

“Trees soak up carbon from the atmosphere and provide a home for wildlife,” she said.

“So it is fantastic that BFT has shown what can be achieved at Carrifran Wildwood.

“This tree itself is quite ordinary, but it represents something extraordinary.”

Last year’s European Tree of the Year winner was the Almond Tree of the Snowy Hill, in Pécs, Hungary.

The UK entry, Liverpool's Allerton Oak, finished in seventh place.

Previous winners include the Whistler cork oak tree in Portugal, which scooped the prize in 2018, the Oak Józef in Poland, which won the contest in 2017, and the oldest tree of Bátaszék, another Hungarian, which came first in 2016.

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