Diss youngsters help to save elms
A tiny new arrival at a Diss school is set to make a big impact as part of a project to reinstate a once common British tree.The elm was widespread across the countryside until the devastating impact of Dutch elm disease, which has claimed the lives of 25million trees since the late 1960s.
A tiny new arrival at a Diss school is set to make a big impact as part of a project to reinstate a once common British tree.
The elm was widespread across the countryside until the devastating impact of Dutch elm disease, which has claimed the lives of 25million trees since the late 1960s.
Pupils at Diss Church Junior School are now set to play a part in the resurrection of the species after becoming one of the first 250 schools in Britain to aid its recovery.
A small sapling, grown from one of the few mature trees that survived Dutch elm disease, arrived on Friday and was planted this week.
Members of the Diss Church Junior School's gardening club will be tasked with the job of regularly monitoring the height and circumference of the young tree as it grows and to check for any signs of disease.
The arrival of the smooth-leaved elm is part of the Great British Elm Experiment, which is run by the Conservation Foundation.
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Gill Key, who oversees the gardening club, said the elm would be positioned in the school's wild garden area, next to the pond.
'Many of the children will not have seen an elm tree before, but our gardening club is very keen to look after it and send updates every six months.'
'It is nice to know we are doing our bit for a national project,' she said.
Great Ellingham Primary School is also to receive an elm sapling.
The campaign is part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of Elms across Europe, the project which led to the setting up in 1982 by David Shreeve and David Bellamy of the Conservation Foundation.
Mr Shreeve said: 'We want to interest a new generation in the elm, so much a feature of British life and landscape for centuries, and also try to find out why some trees survived Dutch elm disease.
'So many have disappeared over recent years that we can only hope to replace some. But rather than give up and forget the elm, we think it's worth a try.'
For more information, visit www.conservationfoundation.co.uk
Elm trees are not native to Britain. They were introduced by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago.
Dutch elm disease reached Europe in 1910, then hit Britain in 1927. It was a relatively mild strain and largely died out by 1940 because of its susceptibility to viruses.
The disease was isolated in Holland in 1921 by phytopathologist Bea Schwartz, which led to it being named Dutch elm disease.
In 1967, a more virulent strain arrived in Britain on a shipment of rock elm logs from North America.
More than 25million UK elms have been killed since 1967.
The disease is spread by bark beetles, which do not travel in temperatures below 24LC.
Most of Britain's mature elms have now been wiped out.
Some colonies have survived, including 15,000 near Brighton. The trees have thrived because they are in an isolated area and have been monitored carefully for signs of disease.