Wildlife Column: Days left to vote for Brimmon Oak

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Now, amid the gloom and doom surrounding the premature demise of many Sheffield street trees, we have a chance to do a bit of good and have some fun.

There is an annual competition to select a ‘Tree of the Year’ for Britain, and then for Europe, and with a click of the button you can make a difference. The Nether Edge Elm in Sheffield was shortlisted but edged out of the British Tree of the Year vote.

However, Rob McBride, the famous ‘Tree Hunter’, has been (and indeed, is) a great champion of Sheffield’s street trees and his wonderful Brimmon Oak is currently neck and neck for the lead in the ‘European Tree of the Year’ award.

You can help it win so please vote this week and ask friends, colleagues and others to do likewise at The Brimmon Oak, Wales, UK

This is a wonderfully iconic and ancient oak that stood unknown and unrecognised until Rob ‘discovered’ it.

When the tree was found in 2015 it was under threat for the construction of a new by-pass. The roots of such a venerable giant extend way beyond the tree’s canopy – perhaps up to a hundred metres or more radius. If these roots are severed, then the tree will die –not today perhaps, but a slow lingering decline over several decades.

Mervyn Jones who farms the land campaigned with Rob to save the tree. And, following a 5,000-signature petition to the Welsh Assembly, the by-pass route was adjusted and ‘bent’ to save it.

Although the tree was not known to the ‘experts’, this ancient pollarded oak had been cared for by one family for generations.

They had their family wedding photographs in 1901 taken under its spreading canopy; a testament to the huge significance we place in our iconic trees.

This giant may well be over 500 years old and it would be fantastic to have its status and heritage recognised.