Shropshire's 'Tree Hunter' missing out on tour but still excited by finals

For the past six years Shropshire's Rob ‘Tree Hunter’ McBride has been an integral part of the European Tree of the Year competition, travelling thousands of miles to visit each of the finalists and to the awards ceremony in Brussels.

Rob McBride is promoting the European Tree of the Year competition despite Covid
Rob McBride is promoting the European Tree of the Year competition despite Covid

This year the Covid pandemic means the only trees he can visit are those near his home in Ellesmere.

But Mr McBride is still getting involved in the 2021 competition, whose finals were launched this week.

He will be organising Zoom events to talk about some of the trees in competitions past and present.

And he is backing the annual Children’s Tree Art Contest.

“Covid-19 has, for the first time, put a stop to my annual tree tour around the contestant trees in the European Tree of the Year 2021, including the UK tree,” he said.

“Each year for the last six years, I have self-funded my trip to visit each tree in the contest during the voting month of February by stacking shelves in a supermarket.

Symbol

“The UK had its best ever second place with the now famous Brimmon Oak at Newtown, Powys. The 500-year old ancient Welsh oak tree was in the path of the Newtown bypass but campaigners successfully fought to have the line of the road moved.”

This year’s finalist representing the UK is the Lone Survivor, a Rowan tree clinging to a stream ban in Carrifan Valley, Scotland.

Mr McBride said thanks to a project from the Borders Forest Trust the survivor tree is lonely no more.

“It is surrounded by a little forest of its children and other native Scottish trees for company. It is a symbol of the 20-year journey to revive the wild heart of Southern Scotland.”

The winning tree will be announced in March.

To get involved in the competition go to treeoftheyear.org and for information about Mr McBride’s involvement go to the Treehunters facebook page.

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