Scotland

'Lord of the Rings' elm is Scotland's tree of the year

The Last Ent of Affric Image copyright Niall Benvie/WTML
Image caption The Last Ent of Affric is Scotland's 2019 Tree of the Year

A lone elm whose remote location has protected it from Dutch elm disease has been named Scotland's Tree of the Year.

The Last "Ent" of Affric beat competition from five other finalists in the 2019 online vote run by Woodland Trust Scotland.

Ents are mythological tree creatures from JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, which serve as guardians of the forest.

The tree was nominated for the honour by Giles Brockman of Forest and Land Scotland (FLS).

Judges chose six trees from public nominations which were then put to an online vote in September.

The Last Ent of Affric will now compete in a vote to be the UK's contender for European Tree of the Year.

'Peculiar face'

The stunning landmark stood forgotten in a spur off Glen Affric in the Highlands until a site visit by FLS and Trees for Life staff in 2012.

It is the only one of its kind in the glen and is believed to be the last survivor of an ancient forest.

The elm is hundreds of years old and has thrived, hidden away from the ravages of Dutch Elm disease.

The Last Ent of Affric Image copyright Niall Benvie/WTML
Image caption The Last Ent of Affric - with its "face" - was nominated by Giles Brockman of Forest and Land Scotland

Mr Brockman said: "Given its location, its isolation - and its peculiar 'face' - it's very easy to imagine it as one of Tolkien's Ents standing sentinel over the rebirth of a new native woodland in Affric."

The winning tree receives a £1,000 care award to improve its health, signage or a public celebration.

It will also be honoured at a ceremony in the Scottish Parliament later in the year, when a trophy will be presented to its supporters.

Prizes were donated by the People's Postcode Lottery.

Giles Brockman Image copyright Niall Benvie/WTML
Image caption Giles Brockman nominated the elm which was named after tree creatures from Lord of the Rings
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Sanjay Singh from the organisation said: "We're delighted players have supported the Woodland Trust's search for 2019's Tree of the Year, a competition highlighting the need to ensure our ancient trees are valued and protected.

"There were many fascinating entries with incredible stories behind them."

Two runners-up won £500 towards their upkeep.

The Peace Tree Image copyright Niall Benvie/WTML
Image caption Councillor Colin Pike chose The Peace Tree as his nomination

The first was the Peace Tree at Dunnottar Church, which was nominated by Councillor Colin Pike.

This oak was planted in 1919 to mark the signing of the treaty ending the World War One, and is officially recognised as a national war memorial.

Once hidden away by brambles, the tree has been returned to view in recent years and celebrated its 100th birthday by producing a good crop of acorns for the first time in some years.

The Cadzow Oak Image copyright Niall Benvie/WTML
Image caption Ancient tree hunter Judy Dowling (right) and Monica Lennon MSP, who is Oak Champion in the Scottish Parliament, nominated the Cadzow Oak

The second runner-up was the Cadzow Oak which was nominated by ancient tree hunter Judy Dowling and by Monica Lennon MSP who is Oak Champion in the Scottish Parliament.

This is one of 300 very ancient oaks growing on what were the hunting grounds of the Duke of Hamilton, and one of a handful easily accessible to the public within Chatelherault Country Park.

It suffered damage from a fire set in its hollow a couple of years ago but survived.

The Cadzow oakwoods provided much inspiration to the Cadzow Artists, a school of landscape painters including Horatio McCulloch (1805-67) and Samuel Bough (1822-78).

Last year's Scottish Tree of the Year - Netty's Tree on Eriskay - now has a ceilidh tune written in its honour.

Other previous winners include The Suffragette Oak in Glasgow, the Ding Dong Tree in Prestonpans and the Big Tree on Orkney.

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