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North Belfast oak beats Dark Hedges to win NI tree of the year

The Peace Tree, an oak in Belfast’s Woodvale Park, has been crowned Northern Ireland’s tree of the year in a search for the region’s best-loved tree

THE Peace Tree, an oak in north Belfast’s Woodvale Park, has beaten the Dark Hedges - made famous in Game Of Thrones - to be crowned Northern Ireland’s tree of the year in a search for the region's best-loved tree.

Organised by the Woodland Trust, the competition saw six specimens compete for public favour, with the champion securing 880 votes - almost a third of the total 2,650 cast for all six contenders.  

Close competition came from the runner-up, a magnificent oak in Derry known as the Tree of Witness, while the Dark Hedges, an avenue of beech trees near Ballymoney, took third place.      

Symbolic of peace and remembrance, the revered Peace Tree was planted in 1919 in honour of those who never returned home from the First World War. 

Almost one century on, the tree will represent Northern Ireland in the European Tree of the Year contest, which – run by the Environmental Partnership Association – will take place in February 2016.  

The winning tree was jointly nominated by Sam Coulter and historian Bobby Foster. 

“We are absolutely overwhelmed with the result. This remarkable and well-loved tree became a focal point for veterans for many years after the war.  And it’s heartening that such interest – from both local people and visitors – remains today.  A sincere thank you goes to each and every person who took the time to vote, and our thanks to the Woodland Trust for organising the competition here in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Foster.

Patrick Cregg MBE, director of the Woodland Trust said: “The enthusiasm of those who nominated trees, together with the number of votes, is truly heartening.  We’ve seen Moneypenny’s Yew, by the Newry Canal, receive votes from as far away as India and Canada. 

“We’re delighted that the Peace Tree has captured the hearts and minds of so many, and really hope that next February people will give this tree the backing it deserves, helping to put Northern Ireland firmly on the map.”

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