A once lone rowan surrounded by new native woodland has been named Scotland's Tree of the Year 2020.

"The Survivor" at Carrifran near Moffat became a potent emblem for the restoration group fundraising to buy the valley twenty years ago.

"Where one tree survives, a million trees will grow," became Carrifran Wildwood's mission statement as Borders Forest Trust took ownership of the land on Millennium Day, 1 January 2000. That mission has been accomplished and the once bare valley is now full of native trees. The lone survivor is lonely no more and stands as a wonderful symbol of what can be achieved by an ambitious local group.

The competition, run by Woodland Trust Scotland, is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The winning tree will receive a trophy plus a care package worth £1000 which can be spent on works to benefit its health, interpretation signage or community celebration.

Woodland Trust Scotland director Carol Evans said:

"We are facing a climate emergency and a biodiversity crisis. One of the most obvious responses is to get more trees in our landscape. Trees soak up carbon from the atmosphere and provide a home for wildlife. So it is fantastic that Borders Forest Trust has shown what can be achieved at Carrifran Wildwood. This tree itself is quite ordinary but it represents something extraordinary.”

Fi Martynoga, who nominated the rowan in the competition said:

"This tree rapidly became a very important symbol of our aspirations to see this valley completely re-wooded 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 on climate change & environmental programmes at 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 stories behind this year’s winners demonstrate just how much people love trees, and the time and energy they are prepared to invest in protecting them. It shows people have special connections with some wonderful trees in all types of neighbourhoods, from remote valleys to city streets.”

The competition has run annually since 2014. Fifty trees were nominated by the public earlier in the year. These were whittled down by a panel of judges with five finalists going to online public vote. Votes were as follows:

  • The Survivor: 1293 votes
  • The Climate Change Tree in Alloa: 1027 votes
  • The Milarrochy Oak at Loch Lomond: 720 votes
  • Queen Mary’s Thorn in Fife: 319 votes
  • The Lord President’s Oak near Inverness: 317.

Trees of the Year are also being announced in England and Wales today. The Welsh winner is The Chapter House Tree at Port Talbot. The English winner is The Happy Man Tree in Hackney.

An overall British winner will be chosen later this year, and will go forward into the European Tree of the Year competition.

Notes to editors

For further information contact George Anderson at Woodland Trust Scotland on 07770 700631.

The Woodland Trust 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 over 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

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