Standing erect among debris left by the tsunami that tore through northern Japan is what residents call the “miracle” pine, and the local government’s recent cause.

The city of Rikuzentakata hopes to raise funds worth 90 million yen ($1.1 million) to preserve the centuries-old pine tree, saying that it embodies “residents’ hopes for renewal”. According to Asahi Shimbun, the lone survivor is dying from damages caused by salt water. The funds will be used to provide antiseptic treatment.

The 250-year old pine tree is among the Takata-Matsubara pine forest, known as the symbol of the city and one of the most famous sites in Japan. The pine forest, which stretches 2 km along the beach, serves as a windbreak to keep salt and sand from blowing in from the sea. The tsunami swept away almost 70,000 trees in the wider area. The “miracle pine” was the only one to survive.

Research institutions and companies are trying to produce sapling using cloning and other techniques, Asahi Shimbun reports.