Are you someone who believes that all our elms have disappeared? The Conservation Foundation, which has been working with elm trees for more than 30 years, has set up a new interactive map to understand the state of Britain’s elm population, and support researchers and enthusiasts to identify surviving elms across the UK.
In spring, their distinctive bunches of bright green seed clumps make elm trees instantly recognisable, and The Conservation Foundation is calling on the British public to become elm detectives and record UK elms on the crowd-sourced map at www.conservationfoundation.co.uk/elms/map
The elm map is populated so far with almost 150 elms, identified by experts and enthusiasts the Foundation has worked with for more than three decades. The Conservation Foundation believes the UK still has a large number of mature elms, and with the help of the country’s citizen-scientists, it hopes to discover the current state of Britain’s elm population and support Dutch elm disease researchers.
Elms have been part of The Conservation Foundation’s history and an elm planting ceremony in October 1979 in Harlow, Essex led David Shreeve and David Bellamy to launch the charity in 1982. Over the years since thousands of elms have been planted, including a disease resistant Sapporo Autumn Gold planted by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in Windsor Great Park, left, where it still flourishes.
Explains The Conservation Foundation director David Shreeve: “Our Foundation grew out of an elm project over 30 years ago and since then we have undertaken a number of initiatives to show that, despite the huge loss of elms due to disease and development, they are still very much around. Thanks to a number of enthusiasts who keep alive an interest in native and new elms and the biodiversity elm trees support, they are ensuring that elms are not a just tree of the past only featuring in memories, poetry and paintings. Now, with modern technology, anyone will be able to see just where the UK’s elms are and hopefully, as a result, even more healthy, mature trees will be discovered and added to our map.”
Sir Harry Studholme, chair of the Forestry Commission and an elm enthusiast, adds: “Elms for centuries gave character to the English landscape. The experience of increasing incidences of tree disease in other species over the last few years has given even greater importance to understanding the resource we have left, how we can protect it and even how we might expand it for future generations.”
The Conservation Foundation Great British Elm Search map is supported by The Tanner Trust, The Berkeley Reafforestation Trust and private individuals.