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The Tree of the Year competition is held in the United Kingdom in Autumn each year by the Woodland Trust, a nationwide conservation charity. Nominated trees are shortlisted by a panel of experts before going to public votes to select a tree of the year for each of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. The panel then selects one of these to become the British tree of the year and be nominated for the following year's European Tree of the Year. The competition has been run each year since 2014.
The European Tree of the Year competition has been running since 2011 and selects a tree from participating countries (now 13 in number) by public vote. It was inspired by an earlier Czech national contest. Most countries hold a national poll to select their entrant for each year. Nominations are made in the year preceding the award. The United Kingdom did not enter the competition until 2013 when Niel Gow's Oak and the Oak at the Gate of the Dead were nominated for Scotland and Wales respectively for entry into the 2014 award. These trees finished seventh and ninth out of the 10 entries for that year. The following year the Woodland Trust, a nationwide conservation charity, took responsibility for nominating British entries into the competition. It instigated national competitions in England, Wales and Scotland. The winners of this competition were entered into the European Tree of the Year awards for 2015. In 2015, the British awards were widened to include Northern Ireland. The Woodland Trust altered the format in 2016, introducing an additional round of voting to name a single tree of the year for the whole country. All four national winners were still entered into the European competition. From 2017, only the single British winner is entered into the European Tree of the Year awards.
The four national competitions are run in September and October and ranking is determined by public vote on the Woodland Trust website. Nominations can be made by any individual or organisation by early August and a shortlist is compiled by a panel of independent experts to put forward to the public vote. Each national winner receives a £1000 grant from the People's Postcode Lottery to be used for any purpose in relation to the tree – this could range from a survey or health check, remedial works, plaques and signs or a celebratory event. A selection of the shortlisted trees will also receive grants of £500. Following the public vote one of the four trees will be selected by a panel of experts to become the British Tree of the Year and be nominated as the British entry into the European awards, voting for which runs through January and February of the following year. In 2018 the Woodland Trust switched format such that the overall British winner was decided by a public vote co-ordinated with the BBC's The One Show.