Experts gather in Brighton to seek ways to safeguard elms

Tree experts have called for Brighton's National Elm Collection to be given World Heritage Status, and for a certification scheme for new elm varieties claimed to be disease resistant.

Image: Dominic Alves
Image: Dominic Alves

The Sussex seaside town, which is home to the UK's largest and most diverse elm population, last week hosted an elm conference organised by The Conservation Foundation which drew elm experts from across the UK as well as Germany and the Netherlands.

Delegates visited elms in the town's Preston Park, home to a number of novel elm varieties which could have strong resistance to Dutch elm disease.

They also discussed the disappointing performance of several elm varieties introduced in the past 30 years, which lacked the disease resistance claimed for them, and proposed a "kite mark" to give confidence to gardeners, local authorities and national governments.

The conference was part of The Conservation Foundation's Ulmus Maritima elm tree project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and by Hillier Nurseries, which supplies the 'New Horizon' fully tested resistant elm.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: "Elms lend the city and landscape a distinct character and it's essential we do all we possibly can to protect them."

Conservation Foundation director David Shreeve said: "Brighton's elm population is amazing and still for many an unknown feature of its environment. Promoting its elms would bring visitors from far and wide and provide the city with a major added visitor attraction. It's important we build on the success of today's event."

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