Oak Józef wins the european contest

Oak Józef, Polish candidate for the European Tree of the Year, came first in the contest. The aged Józef had to compete with 16 other trees from all over Europe.

Oak Józef, Polish candidate for the European Tree of the Year, came first in the contest. The aged Józef had to compete with 16 other trees from all over Europe.

Oak Józef from Wiśniowa (Strzyżów Forest District; RDSF in Krosno) won over 17 thousand votes. The Brimmon Oak from Great Britain came second with over 16 thousand votes. The lime tree at Lipka from The Czech Republic came third with about 15 thousand votes. Over 125 thousand people participated in the voting.

‘I'm happy because I can say to all Poles and Europeans that we love trees and we'll continue to take care, protect and plant them and we will always endeavor for the benefit of Polish nature’ said Jacek Bożek, the leader of Klub Gaja.

Józef, which grows within the area of the Strzyżów Forest District (RDSF in Krosno) is a true oldie, it's 650 years old. The measurements show that its girth is 675 cm and it's 30 metres high.

Oak Józef has a remarkable history. The Mycielski family was its last owner and its name ‘Józef’ came after Józef Mehoffer , a painter, illustrator, designer, scenographer and drafter in the period of Young Poland, who was a close friend of the family.
The tree was immortalized by the artist on a sketch, which was later placed on a banknote issued in 1930s. 
To commemorate this event, the oak was named after the artist.

According to the residents of Wiśniowa, the oak became shelter for a Jewish family during WWII.

Oak Józef was nominated to the Klub Gaja Tree of the Year Contest by the authorities of Strzyżewo District, Culture and Tourism Centre in Wiśniowa, Strzyżów Forest District and Cherry Home Foundation.

The European Tree Of The Year award ceremony was held on 21 March in the European Parliament in Brussels. The ceremony was attended by the representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission, organizers of the Tree Of the Year contests at national levels.

Several hundred people were kept in suspense until the voting results were revealed. Delegates from Hungary, who were representing last year's winner - the oldest tree in Bátaszék, handed over wooden statue to this year's winner.

Year after year the number of participating countries is growing, therefore we may recognise more precious trees of Europe. The first contest was organised in 2011by the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation. Only five European trees participated in the first voting. This year voting involved already 16 trees all over Europe and over 125 thousand internet users have cast their votes.

The national stage winners participate in the competition finale. Klub Gaja organizes Polish edition of the competition. Another edition voting will be held in June.
‘I hope that the number of lovers and caretakers of forests will grow year after year thanks to the competition’ says Jolanta Migdał form Klub Gaja, the coordinator of the Tree of the Year, Poland.

The European Tree of the Year turns people's attention to interesting trees, as very important elements of the environmental and cultural heritage which should be protected and highly regarded.