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A yew that has been declared one of the seven wonders of Wales, an Indian bean tree that watches over a war memorial and that was saved from felling by a community campaign and an oak that provided haven in the forest during the dark days of lockdown. These are just three of the splendid trees vying for the esteemed title of Wales Tree of the Year 2020.

Woodland Trust Coed Cadw’s annual competition, now in its seventh year, throws the spotlight on Wales’ best-loved trees to help drive up interest in their value and protection. 

Whittled down from scores of nominations sent in by the public during lockdown, the shortlist was drawn up by a panel of Welsh experts. Six trees are now up for the public vote. By going online at woodlandtrust.org.uk people can choose their favourite and crown Wales’ Tree of the Year for 2020. Voting is open until 24 September.

The shortlisted trees

The Beech of Many Faces, Gnoll Country Park, Neath

“This tree always makes me smile and I'm sure it smiles back.  I see many faces in it and I know others do too. I'm 67 now but I have loved this tree since the day I first saw it when I was a toddler. I have to see it often to check on it. The roots remain proud and appear to guard its body. My grandchildren are so fond of it and very protective of it.”  - Janet Lockyer, who nominated the tree.

The Chapter House Tree, Margam Park, Port Talbot

Standing in the shadows of 17th century Margam Orangery and St Mary’s Church, this historic fern-leaved beech envelopes the remains of one of the first Cistercian abbeys in Wales. Its canopy has provided shelter to visitors for many years, from Victorian tea parties under its sweeping boughs to a favourite summer picnic spot for present day visitors. The tree provides an atmospheric back drop and is loved by cinematographers- featuring in TV and Film productions from Dr Who and ‘Songs of Praise’ with Sir Bryn Terfel to the recent Netflix blockbuster series ‘Sex Education’. Nominated by David Elward.

The Chirk Castle Sweet Chestnut, Chirk Castle, Chirk, near Wrexham

This ancient tree is absolutely majestic. The limbs are wide like those of an elephant, the bark gnarled and wrinkled with character and magic, most of all - it must hold centuries of wisdom. It has supposedly been around since the reign of Henry VIII. It’s borne witness to the Civil War, Chirk being a location for sieges and battle. Its vast size is truly awesome when you meet it on the rugged path. It’s a beast of a tree in both its history and size! Nominated by Lilly Hedley.

The Sychbant Oak, Near Maesteg, Bridgend

“Whilst exploring my local patch during lockdown, I stumbled across this rugged old oak. The trunk is hollow, yet it stands tall and strong, faring well in the face of adversity. I find the hole at the back transfixing, providing a portal directing your attention at the greenery on the far side. It entices you to get up close to gain a clearer view, leaving you expecting to witness some secret gathering of mythical creatures unfolding. This has become a favourite place of mine. An escape from the circumstances of life during troubled times. It's my haven in the forest, under the watchful gaze of my wise and crooked friend.” - Rhodri Irranca-Davies, who nominated the tree.

The Monmouth Catalpa Tree, St James Square, Monmouth

This Indian bean tree in a site of historic importance in Monmouth’s St James Square was planted in 1900. At the time of the unveiling of the Monmouth war memorial in 1921, it was already a beautiful mature specimen. It was threatened in 2005 when the local authority wanted to fell it on safety grounds because it was hollow. This prompted a fantastic campaign by local people. Specialist arborists were brought in who confirmed that minor tree work was all that was necessary. This was carried out in 2011 and the tree is now once again flourishing. In 2006 it was declared the oldest and largest of its species in the UK. It well befits the brave soldiers who gave up their lives for our freedom. Nominated by Mary Kennedy.

The Overton Yew in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Overton-on-Dee

This yew tree is believed to be between 1500-2000 years old, and is the largest yew in a group of yew trees called 'The Overton Yews' mentioned in the folk song The Seven Wonders of Wales.  It is thought that a small Christian oratory of wattle and daub stood on the site of the present church as far back as the 7th century, the current church stands next to this yew. As the song goes:

“Pistyll Rhaeadr and Wrexham steeple,

Snowdon's mountain without its people,

Overton yew trees, St Winefride's well,

Llangollen bridge and Gresford bells”

Nominated by Angus Birdett.

Darren Moorcroft, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, said:

“Easily overlooked and routinely undervalued, trees deserve their moment in the sun. This contest highlights the need for better protection for the nation’s trees. At a time when we’re fighting both a climate and nature crisis, trees are needed now more than ever.

“This competition is a way to show that people do care about trees, so please visit our website and vote for your favourite!”

The process is simple – the tree with the most votes wins. As well as putting the nation’s best trees on the map, the awards - supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery - offer a £1,000 tree care award for each winning tree.

The Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year competition runs in Wales, England and Scotland.  Each country, thanks to the public vote, will have its own champion.  Just one of the three national winners will be selected to represent the UK in the 2021 European Tree of the Year contest.

Take a closer look at the shortlist and vote for your favourite tree now at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear  Voting ends on 24 September.

Notes to editors

For media enquiries contact:

Llinos Humphreys, communications and engagement manager on 0343 770 5629, 07824 858321 or llinoshumphreys@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Or the Woodland Trust press office on 01476 581121 or media@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife. The Trust has three key aims: 

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. These include over 100 sites in Wales, with a total area of 2,897 hectares (7,155 acres). Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

The Trust’s Welsh language name, “Coed Cadw”, is an old Welsh term, used in medieval laws to describe protected or preserved woodland.

The Tree of the Year competition is run in support of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People – an initiative that sets out 10 tree principles to embed in our society for a future where people and trees are stronger together. Find out more and voice your support at treecharter.uk

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