Bio-vaccine to be trialled on south coast elms

The Conservation Foundation and East Sussex County Council have undertaken a programme trialling the biological vaccine Dutch Trig against Dutch elm disease.

Image: Dominic Alves
Image: Dominic Alves

The first injections of UK elms will take place tomorrow (Wednesday 25 May) in the coastal town of Seaford.

The product, from Dutch supplier Bomendienst, been used successfully to combat the disease in the Netherlands since 1992 and also in Sweden, Germany, the USA and Canada.

One of the last bastions of the elm in the UK, the Sussex coast was the focus of the Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Ulmus Maritime project, which included a felling programme, plantings and an elm symposium in Brighton, at which Bomendienst's Ron Schraven explained the product.

"Dutch Trig triggers a reaction of the immune system and activates the natural defence mechanism of the tree," he said. "Because of this the tree recognises Dutch elm disease quicker and can react to it in time, this helping it to survive. It is a safe, easy and organic way of protecting elms."

Conservation Foundation representative James Coleman said: "Until now, elm protection programmes have mostly relied on sanitation felling to help control beetle populations. Dutch Trig offers a real chance to protect the elms from Dutch elm disease, so we're keen to trial the vaccine in Sussex."

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