A Hackney plane tree has been crowned England’s Tree of the Year for 2020, after the public voted overwhelmingly in its favour.
But not all votes have gone the Happy Man Tree’s way. Last month, it was decided that the tree will be felled before the year is out to make way for redevelopment.
Now in its seventh year, the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year contest aims to showcase the UK’s favourite trees to help show their value and need for protection. It is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery which gives a £1,000 care award to the winning trees.
The Happy Man Tree is a street tree outside the now demolished Happy Man public house in Woodberry Grove, just off Seven Sisters Road. It was nominated for the contest by members of the public during spring’s lockdown and shortlisted for the public vote.
Adam Cormack, head of campaigning for the Woodland Trust said: “The local community has made a powerful case to retain the tree, adopting the slogan #noticethistree. We did notice, and so did thousands more. 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. This is not a simple case of good and bad. The redevelopment is to provide important social housing and Hackney Borough Council has been doing some great work to increase green spaces including setting a borough-wide target to increase tree cover. But, given the developer’s own admission that this tree could have been retained if plans were amended earlier in the consultation process, we must call this out for being a poor decision. And sadly one we see too often. Efforts to create new homes and better places to live must start with protecting existing trees, and their avoidable loss must always be prevented. Planting new trees, while needed, will take years to have the same impact on absorbing carbon and cleaning air.”