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Major Oak takes the crown as England’s Tree of the Year

The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest has been crowned England’s Tree of the Year in a public vote run by the Woodland Trust. The tree, made famous by Robin Hood, beat off fierce competition from Old Knobbley in Essex and the Ickwell Oak in Bedfordshire to poll 18% of almost 13,000 votes cast in just eight days earlier this month.

The tree will now represent England alongside the winning entries from Scotland (Lady’s Tree) and Wales (The Lonely Tree) in the European Tree of the Year contest, run by the Environmental Partnership Association, which takes place in February 2015.

The Major Oak is situated within Sherwood Forest Country Park, which is managed by Nottinghamshire County Council, and forms part of the wider Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve.

The Woodland Trust in partnership with Country Living is asking the public to support its call for a national register to classify, celebrate and protect the UK’s most important and best-loved trees. The majority of Northern Europe’s special trees are found in the UK and the charity believes these living monuments need to be officially recognised and protected, just like our best historic buildings.

Woodland Trust Chief Executive Beccy Speight said: “The number of votes and amount of interest this contest has generated really demonstrate how much people love their trees and I can’t think of a better representative for England than the Major Oak. We need to translate this passion into action, to ensure all our venerable old trees have the best possible support and protection to prolong their existence in the face of any threats faced – and that’s exactly what our call for a national register of trees of special interest aims to do.”

Councillor John Knight, Committee Chairman for Culture, at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “We are delighted that the Major Oak has been named as the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year in England and wish to thank everyone who has taken time to vote. It is one of the most iconic trees worldwide.

“We are rightly proud of our famous tree. Legend has it that it was the hideout for Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and the Major Oak is a fascinating natural habitat. This award is more fantastic recognition for Sherwood Forest. It is also significant news as we are enjoying a real year of celebration in 2014 with Sherwood Forest celebrating its 60th anniversary as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.”

Major Oak – top ten facts:

• The Major Oak is situated within Sherwood Forest Country Park, managed by Nottinghamshire County Council. Find out more: nottinghamshire.gov.uk/sherwoodforest

• The tree was said to be the legendary hideout of Robin Hood and his Merry Men in medieval times.

• The forest is currently celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of being granted SSSI status – Site of Special Scientific Interest and will host ‘Sparkling Sherwood’ Festivities this winter, in partnership with the Sherwood Forest Trust and supported by Awards for All.

• It is estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 years old, and is one of nearly 1,000 ancient oaks within the country park.

• The Major Oak is a Quercus Robur, an English or pedunculate oak.

• The Major Oak weighs around 23 tons, has a girth of ten metres (33ft) and a spread of 28 metres (92ft).

• In a good year it can produce 150,000 acorns. The annual Seed Hunt Sunday offers a chance for people to visit Sherwood Forest and see the Major Oak up close, and collect acorns from the Forest Floor.

• The Major Oak was one of the locations chosen to host the Olympic Flame visited Sherwood Forest as part of its tour of England ahead of London 2012.

• Visitors travelled from as far away as Australia to see the Major Oak up close from a cherry picker as part of the recent Major Oak Woodland Festival organised by Nottinghamshire County Council in partnership with The Sherwood Forest Trust.

• The tree became better known as “The Major’s Oak” after it was described in 1790 by a local historian, Major Hayman Rooke.

Posted on 19 November 2014

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