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The rare Gloucestershire elm helping to regenerate Britain’s lost trees

PUBLISHED: 16:19 09 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:34 09 January 2014

Although The English Elm is particularly susceptible to Dutch elm disease, the tree near Stow-on-the-Wold has resisted the disease for decades

Although The English Elm is particularly susceptible to Dutch elm disease, the tree near Stow-on-the-Wold has resisted the disease for decades

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A Gloucestershire tree is helping to lead the fight back against Dutch elm disease

An English elm sapling - one of many being planted across the UK in an effort to counteract the damage caused by Dutch elm diseaseAn English elm sapling - one of many being planted across the UK in an effort to counteract the damage caused by Dutch elm disease

Constable, John Clare and John Betjeman all used the soaring, distinctive elm tree to celebrate the quintessential English landscape. Sadly the outbreak of Dutch elm disease in the 1970s decimated the population, scarring the landscape and the elms place in our imagination. However a Gloucestershire tree is helping to lead the fight back. Having resisted the disease for decades, saplings have been propagated from the English elm near Stow-on-the-Wold and are being distributed to schools and community groups across the UK.

The tree is part of The Great British Elm Experiment, a nation-wide project by The Conservation Foundation to unlock the mystery of why some elms survived Dutch elm disease. As well as the Stow-on-the-Wold tree, other surviving “parent” trees for the saplings include those near Cheltenham and Buckingham. The health of the saplings is being monitored by schools, groups and individuals, teaching the next generation of the importance of the elm and biodiversity. Schools in Cheltenham, Swindon, Gloucester and Oxford are already taking part having received their elm saplings.

David Shreeve, director and joint co-founder of The Conservation Foundation along with natural history presenter David Bellamy says “we want to interest a new generation in the elm, so much a feature of the British life and landscape for centuries and also to try and 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 just give up and forget the elm, we think it’s worth a try.”

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For more about The Conservation Foundation, visit: www.conservationfoundation.co.uk

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