Capture an image of your favourite oak tree and you could win a brand new prize on offer from the International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY) competition.
The special award, launched this year, celebrates the British oak tree through photography, raising money for scientific research and monitoring of this most ancient of woodland icons.
There are about 120 million oak trees in the UK, and more ancient oaks than in all other EU countries combined. Yet they are under threat as never before from pests such as oak processionary moth, and diseases like xylella, honey fungus and acute oak decline. Environmental and climate change, pollution and habitat loss are also putting oaks under pressure, with a knock-on effect for the 600-plus species which depend on them from mosses and lichens to squirrels, birds and bats.
Action Oak is a £15 million initiative, supported by the Prince of Wales, which brings together charities such as the Woodland Trust and the National Trust, as well as governments, landowners and research institutions, all dedicated to saving our oak trees.
Oaks make superb subjects for garden photography, nature photography and landscape photography, and have already featured in prizewinning photographs: last year Michael Hudson’s image ‘Ancient Oak’ won the Black and White Photo Project category at the annual awards ceremony.
Now, however, the new award will concentrate solely on photographs of these iconic trees. Winners will feature in a dedicated book, to be published in 2019. Oaks must have been photographed in the UK: the deadline for submissions is September 30th.
Even if photography isn’t your thing, you can do your bit to help: donate funds towards research, or join in citizen science initiatives to record changes in the distribution, age and health of our oak trees to identify where scientists should concentrate their efforts. For more details visit www.actionoak.org.