The tree in the Carrifran Valley, near Moffat, beat competition from five other finalists in an online vote run by Woodland Trust Scotland.
The Survivor Tree was a lone rowan clinging to a stream bank 20 years ago when it inspired the Borders Forest Trust’s slogan “Where one tree survives, a million trees will grow”.
The once isolated tree it is now surrounded by a forest of its offspring and more than half a million other native Scottish trees which have already sprouted up around it.
The original rowan that once conquered the view is expected soon to be hidden from sight by new native woodland evoking the countryside of 6,000 years ago.
The Survivor Tree was this week named Scotland’s seventh annual Tree of the Year, which comes with a £1,000 Care Award which can be spent on work to bolster the health of the tree, signage and interpretation or a community celebration. An award will also be presented for Borders Forest Trust and the Carrifran Wildwood ecological restoration initiative.
Fi Martynoga of Borders Forest Trust, who nominated the winning tree, said it had become an emblem for the group when it bought the land on Millenium day.
She said: “This tree rapidly became a very important symbol of our aspirations to see this valley completely re-wooded and restored to its natural vegetation.
“At that time it was an absolutely barren sheepwalk, and all around was just bitten-to-the-quick grass and virtually no trees. We thought this was a fantastic symbol of what we want to do – where this one tree stands we would like to see a million grow.
“In this valley alone we have planted well over 600,000 trees. The beauty of it is they are now beginning to reproduce themselves.
“It shows how you can change an environment for the better, preserve and multiply what is around. I hope it can stand as a symbol for other
people, that they can do the same thing.”
Tree of the Year competition is run by the Woodland Trust with the backing from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Since 2014 it has commemorated the country’s best loved trees, from historic giants to those with a special local story to tell.
Fifty Scottish trees were selected by the public earlier this year, from which five were shortlisted by judges for a public vote.
They included “Queen Mary’s Thorn”, a hawthorn planted by Mary, Queen of Scots 460 years ago at the University of St Andrews in Fife; “The Climate Change Tree”, a sycamore that grows in the one-time Sheriffyards Colliery near Alloa, Clackmannanshire; the historic “Lord President’s Oak” at the entrance to a bridge near Inverness; and the “Milarrochy Oak” on the banks of Loch Lomond.
The Survivor won with over 1,200 votes, ahead of The Climate Change Tree (1,027 votes); The Milarrochy Oak (700 votes); Queen Mary’s Thorn (319 votes); and The Lord President’s Oak (317 votes).
Carol Evans, director, Woodland Trust Scotland, said: “We are facing a climate emergency and a biodiversity crisis. One of the most obvious responses is to get more trees in our landscape.
“Trees soak up carbon from the atmosphere and provide a home for wildlife. So it is fantastic that Borders Forest Trust has shown what can be achieved at Carrifran Wildwood.
“The tree itself is quite ordinary but it represents something extraordinary.”
Trees of the Year are also being announced in England and Wales. The English winner is The Happy Man Tree in Hackney, London. The Welsh winner is The Chapter House Tree at Port Talbot.
An overall British winner will be chosen later this year to go forward into the European Tree of the Year competition.
Will Humpington, advisor on climate change and environmental programmes at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “The stories behind this year’s winners demonstrate just how much people love trees, and the time and energy they are prepared to invest in protecting them.
“It shows people have special connections with some wonderful trees in all types of neighbourhoods, from remote valleys to city streets.”