A LONE rowan in the Borders has been crowned Scotland’s Tree of the Year in the annual Woodland Trust-run competition.

Carrifran Valley’s Survivor Tree became an emblem for the restoration group fundraising to buy the land 20 years ago.

The restoration efforts have proved successful, with the once bare valley now full of native trees, and the Woodland Trust said that Borders Forest Trust’s Carrifran Wild Wood showed how to tackle the dual climate and nature crises.

England’s Tree of the Year was awarded to a mature London plane tree set to be felled for the redevelopment of homes.

The “Happy Man Tree” on a street in Hackney was nominated for the contest during lockdown in the spring and, after being shortlisted for a public vote, topped the poll. The 150-year-old tree is one of 33 to be felled for the redevelopment of the Woodberry Down estate, set to deliver 584 new homes, 175 new trees and a public park.

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Local community members have campaigned to save it, urging people to #noticethistree on social media. They have installed artworks and raised petitions, and have criticised efforts to make the matter a binary choice between housing and the tree.

Noemi Menendez, a Woodberry Down resident who is part of the community efforts to save the tree, said: “Today is an important day for the campaigners of the Friends of the Happy Man Tree. We are over the moon to have won this award, and extremely grateful to everybody who voted for our tree.

“Planning with a heart will solve the problem we have faced during this campaign; it is a false argument that we only care for one tree and nothing else. We want the tree and the homes; they are both equally important.

“The Happy Man Tree protest has highlighted the value that mature trees have in a community, their cultural and social importance based on memories, aesthetic features, and the sense of wellbeing they bring.”

Adam Cormack, head of campaigning for the Woodland Trust, said: “In too many places we see well-loved mature trees lost to development rather than designed in to plans from the start. When this happens it’s a lose-lose situation. The tree itself is lost and people lose something that made their lives better.”

He said the redevelopment would provide important social housing and Hackney Council had been doing some great work to increase green spaces and tree cover. But the developer added the tree could have been retained if plans were amended earlier in the consultation process, stating that “we must call this out for being a poor decision”.

“Efforts to create new homes and better places to live must start with protecting existing trees, and their avoidable loss must always be prevented,” he urged.

The winning tree for Wales is the Chapter House Tree, Margam Park, Port Talbot, a historic fern-leaved beech tree which envelops the remains of one of the first Cistercian abbeys in the country and provides shelter to visitors.

The competition is run by the Woodland Trust and backed by the People’s Postcode Lottery, which gives a £1000 care award to winning trees. It aims to showcase the UK’s favourite trees to show their value and need for protection.