A ‘black day for landscape photographers.’ Despair as rescue chopper blows branch off 500-year-old Pine tree

Overlooking a spectacular gorge the rare tree has become both a symbol of the mountain range and a symbol of Poland, with its image appearing in countless postcards, books and films. Grzegorz Momot/PAP

One of the most famous and most photographed trees in Poland had to undergo surgery and have a branch removed after it was damaged by a mountain rescue helicopter.

The pine, believed to be around 500 years old, clings to a cliff high on Sokolica, a peak in the Pieniny Mountain range on the Slovakian border. 

Overlooking a spectacular gorge the rare tree has become both a symbol of the mountain range and a symbol of Poland, with its image appearing in countless postcards, books and films.

But its future was thrown into doubt following the incident with the helicopter. 

As the aircraft moved into airlift a tourist with a head injury, the down blast from its rotors damaged one of the aged tree’s few branches.

After an inspection of the tree the Pieniny National Park authorities decided surgery was the best option.

“It turned out that the damage was more serious than first thought,” the park authorities said in a statement. 

Minus a branch the tree has lost some of the photographic appeal that made it a favourite with both professional and amateur photographers across Poland.Grzegorz Momot/PAP

“After the on-site inspection, and subsequent consultations it was concluded that leaving the broken branch on the pine would threaten the survival of the only living branch. 

“Therefore we decided to remove the broken branch and protect the wound on the tree from fungal infection.”

The amputated branch has been dispatched to a laboratory, which will use it in an attempt to determine the tree’s exact age.

Minus a branch the tree has lost some of the photographic appeal that made it a favourite with both professional and amateur photographers across Poland.

One photographer, Jan Ulicki, took to twitter describe the loss of the branch as a “black day for Polish landscape photographers”.