Working together for the future of Britain’s elm population
One of the aims of The Conservation Foundation’s Great British Elm Projects is to combat the view that ‘Elms have had it!’ It is true that many have been lost due to disease and development, but many still survive – and there could be one near you.
The Conservation Foundation’s roots go back to the Elms Across Europe project launched in 1978.This involved a propagation programme in the UK of a large number of Sapporo Autumn Gold elms, a disease resistant hybrid developed by the University of Wisconsin.These young elms were supplied to schools, local authorities and private gardens.
Many of these elms survive over thirty years later throughout the country. One of the originals from Wisconsin continues to flourish in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The Foundation continues to maintain interests with elms of all sorts and provides a link between many elm enthusiasts like Peter Bourne a lifelong elm enthusiast and supporter of the National Elm Collection in Brighton who is helping to create the Great British Elm Map.
This accessible, public database records the current state of the elm population.
You can log an elm by uploading photographs of the tree (leaves, bark, shape) with its location and as much other information as possible on the Great British Elm Search map.
The Conservation Foundation took cuttings from healthy mature trees from across the UK that appear to have resisted Dutch elm disease for over 60 years. These were micro propagated and over 3,000 of these native saplings have been distributed to schools, community groups, local authorities and private landowners who are taking part in The Great British Elm Experiment.
“We want to interest a new generation in the elm, so much a feature of the British life and landscape for centuries and try to discover which trees really are resistant to Dutch elm disease.”
David Shreeve, Director
Height, girth, wildlife, signs of disease and other data is being recorded as part of this long-term experiment which will, hopefully, lead in time to a new generation of elms to become established throughout the UK and encourage future generations to value elms and their biodiversity. Listen to elms and GBEE being discussed on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time (25 minutes in).
Where can I source elms?
The public planting phase of The Great British Elm Experiment has ended and we are no longer able to supply trees.
Various commercial nurseries can provide elms. Remember, it is very difficult for anyone to guarantee a tree as being ‘disease resistant’.
Would you like to get involved and help our elms?
We are in contact with a number of elm enthusiasts both here and around the world. We’d be happy to meet more to help network news of resistant elms, new elms and to encourage propagation, new plantings and generally help keep the interest in elms alive for future generations. Currently we are keen to find someone to help update our elm map and verify reports of healthy mature elms. It’s a voluntary role requiring basic IT knowledge. If you have this do please get in touch.