The winner of the Woodland Trust Scotland’s Tree of the Year 2017 was announced on Wednesday 6 December 2017 at a special reception at the Scottish Parliament. Unfortunately the tree didn’t win, that award going to ‘The Big Tree’ Sycamore of Kirkwall in Orkney.
The Greenock Cut Oak is hard to miss – it is perched right on the edge of a steep embankment alongside the Greenock Cut a few hundred metres from the Visitor Centre. Despite being nearly 200 meters above sea level and open to the prevailing south westerly winds it is a massive sprawling tree dwarfing the other trees around it with its huge branches covered in lichen, ferns and fungi.
Estimated to be as old or older than the Greenock Cut (built in the 1820’s) it is an important countryside landmark for the Countryside Ranger Outdoor Learning sessions as they stop at it each time they lead guided walks.
Wildlife and Outdoor Learning Value
Mike Holcombe, Senior Countryside Ranger at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park said “This amazing oak is our ‘Ambassador Tree’. Hundreds of school child visit us each year, they stop at this native tree to learn all about it. Like all oak trees the Greenock Cut Oak is a habitat in its own right. The leaves of our oak trees are all unique, just like all our children who visit.”
Oak trees support more forms of life than any other UK native tree, they can host hundreds of species of insect, supplying many birds with an important food source. In autumn mammals such as badgers and deer take advantage of the falling acorns. The soft leaves of an oak tree breakdown easily in autumn and form a rich leaf mould beneath the tree, supporting a wide variety of insects and numerous fungi species. Its holes and crevices in its bark are perfect nesting spots for the small birds. It can also house and feed bats which make the most of the abundant insects in the tree canopy.