Unexpected Lopping: An Unfortunate Update on the Romanian Tree of the Year

6/10/2019 | Hannah Fischer/Hannah Boylan
Stana Drăgoiu
Despite many efforts to save it, the 200-year-old Romanian Tree of the Year has been cut.
In 2018, the small town of Campeni joined forces and fought to save this 200-year-old tree from being cut down. As efforts continued, the tree became a symbol of love for nature, love for beauty, returning to one’s roots, and simplicity.

This past March, the fate of the tree had yet to be determined as it entered the European Tree of the Year Contest. Over the course of the competition, the people of Romania rallied around this symbolic natural landmark and used the European round to encourage officials to reconsider their plans. Although their efforts made notable strides in saving it, in April 2019 the “Tree of Romania” was unexpectedly and severely, cut.
Claudiu Druga
After all of the efforts that were made by the local people to save this tree, the outcome is hard to believe. Originally, the tree was to be cut down to allow for the extension of a nearby building to become a cultural centre, but the project was stopped, believed to be because the company carrying out the work became bankrupt. The building has since been left to decay.  Described as rare and the largest in the town, this tree could be seen from the mountain top. It was a symbol of community and national unity with an incredible story. Our previous article describes this tree’s journey some more.
However, in April, the nominator of the tree, Stana Dragou, saw unskilled workers, inexpertly cutting the tree!  Stana then bravely proceeded to video the destruction in progress despite the backlash from the workers.  In the meantime the mayor came to see what was going on, and Stana challenged him on what was happening to the special tree.  The mayor claimed that he had not known that it was Romania’s Tree of the Year, even though a tricolor ribbon in Romanian flag colours was tied around its trunk.
We know that the mayor knew this was a special tree because in February, as part of his tour of the European Tree of the Year nominees, Rob McBride, also known as the Tree Hunter, made a visit to Romania and met with the mayor.  McBride showed him pictures drawn by the local children of the tree and it was thought that the Mayor came to understand how much the tree was loved. Rob also offered tree management advice to help combat the root damage caused by the building.  The mayor appeared to take onboard his suggestions, he certainly knew the depth of feeling that the community had for this tree.

Claudiu Druga
McBride estimates that approximately 75% of the tree has been cut, even though his suggestion was to cut no more than 30%. It was also noted that the tree was cut poorly by non-professionals. Due to the resilience of this tree species; however, the giant plane tree may survive.
The neglect of natural landmarks like these are a reason to advocate for trees in need. Recently, this case has sparked important conversation among the public and media about tree protection in Romania. We cannot allow for the future of trees to be left in the hands of those who do not appreciate the history and hope that trees bring to their town, people and community.