A safe haven from predators and poachers, Lady’s Tree, as it has been named after its feathered friend, has towered above the Loch of the Lowes nature reserve in Perthshire for 100 years.
Now the Scots pine has beaten off competition from five other finalists from around the country to be named Scottish tree of the year.
Resident raptor Lady, believed to be 28 years old, is thought to have laid more than 70 eggs at the reserve near Dunkeld.
Her antics have attracted fans from around the globe. Such is her popularity that a 24-hour webcam transmits footage from the tree to more than a million viewers in 160 countries every year.
Now Lady’s Tree has beaten off stiff competition from other strong finalists. They include a yew believed to be the UK’s oldest tree and two ancient oaks.
The announcement was welcomed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, which nominated Lady’s Tree for the award. Chief executive Jonny Hughes said the tree was part of a “wider conservation success story” at the reserve.
He went on: “Ospreys were extinct in Scotland, but through dedicated conservation efforts such as the osprey protection programme undertaken at Loch of the Lowes every year, the population in Scotland is thriving once again.
“The osprey that nests in the winning tree – affectionately known by many as Lady – has laid an astonishing 71 eggs and fledged 50 chicks in the 24 years she has spent at Loch of the Lowes.”
The Gowk Tree in Moffat, Dumfriesshire, an oak that is more than 500 years old, took the runner-up spot, while the Clachan Oak in Balfron, Stirlingshire, was third.
The renowned Fortingall Yew at Fortingall, Perthshire, which experts say could be 3,000 years old, came fourth. Queen Mary’s Tree in Cumbernauld was fifth and the Kissing Beech in Kilravock, near Nairn, sixth.
The Scots pine was recently designated Scotland’s national tree. It is native to the Highlands and is the largest and longest-lived in the Caledonian Forest. Its conservation status is recovering, with regeneration now starting to occur.
Scots pines are an important host for a variety of species, as well as providing shelter for deer, shade for flowers and a home for the threatened indigenous red squirrel.
Carol Evans, director of the charity Woodland Trust Scotland, said: “Lady’s Tree supports a wide range of life – from lichens and wood ants to red squirrels and, of course, a very famous osprey – and it has been at the heart of a conservation success story for nearly quarter of a century.”
Thousands of votes were cast in the competition, which was run by Woodland Trust Scotland and supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Lady’s Tree will compete against entries from 12 other countries for the title of European Tree of the Year 2015 in February. Ms Evans said: “It’s a very worthy winner. As a Scots pine, it is Scotland’s national tree and I hope that the nation will give it their vote in European Tree of the Year.”
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