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The competition that embodies special values is organised by the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation. I conducted this interview with the main organiser, Éva Sólyom.
The event has been present in Hungary since 2010. It was inspired by our Czech sister organisation, Nadace Partnerstvi, which has been organising the event with success for more than 10 years. With their help, we decided to give it a go ourselves. Our main goal is to introduce stories that express why it is important for a community to protect the environment and in what aspects they can relate to certain natural values. And the trees could tell a lot of stories about this, since they live for a very long time and there are a lot of events going on around them.
The competition is advertised in May and anybody – a group of friends, a family, NGOs, companies – can nominate their favourite tree with a photo and a relevant story. After the nominations, the expert jury chooses 12-13 trees, for which anybody can vote from the end of September. In the end, it is up to the choice of the general public which tree will be awarded.
The winner of the competition does not only get the title of ’the tree of the year’, but also receives a health survey and treatment. It is important to point out that there are two special category winners as well. One of them is the ’hero tree’, which is a special category and in this category, it is the jury that makes the final decision. It is awarded to a tree which is either in danger itself or its environment is and a community has joined forces to try and save it. The other special price is awarded by the National Forestry Association to a tree chosen by them.
What values do you think this competition represents?
What is important in all environment protection campaigns is the community collaboration, activity and openness. This is the main message of the competition. Such an event calls people’s attention to the precious trees and through them to the community that protects them, emphasizing the relationship between humans and nature. The fact that there are a lot of people participating and voting reflects this perfectly.
Through our Czech sister organisation we do have international connections and through them there have been other countries joining the competition. At the moment, there are seven countries participating. All the trees that won their national competition participate in the European final round, the winner of which receives the ’European Tree of the Year’ award. The awarding ceremony takes place in Brussels. It is exemplary that Hungary has won the international competition twice.
The poll has already started on this website, but until 5th November you can still vote for your favourite tree!
Translated by Judit Molnár