Join battle to save East Sussex elms

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Residents are being urged to join the battle to protect the only population of mature English elms left in the UK from Dutch Elm Disease (DED).

During summer and early autumn, infected trees can be identified by yellowing and shrivelled leaves, turning brown as the infection spreads. DED has killed about 25 million trees in the UK since its arrival in 1971.

East Sussex County Council is calling on members of the public to keep an eye open for signs of the disease among its 17,000 strong population within the control zone, between Brighton and Eastbourne, set up to limit the spread of the disease.

Anthony Becvar, the county council’s dedicated Dutch Elm Disease officer, said: “As well as being the only population of mature English elms in the UK, these trees make an important contribution to our local landscape and are home to a number of plants and animals. We’re asking residents to help spot the disease so that we can make sure we keep it under control.

“The control programme is designed to protect as many elms as possible from the disease and although some will have to be felled, this is to ensure that a healthy and strong population continues to thrive.”

Last year East Sussex County Council felled around 1435 mature trees to prevent the spread of the disease. So far this year about 450 diseased trees have been cut down and a further 200 elm trees showing signs of the disease are being closely monitoring.

As soon as they become breeding sites for the elm bark beetles, which spread DED, they will be cut down. This will reduce the beetle population, which will help control the spread of the disease.

Advice on how to spot DED can be found on the County Council’s website at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/environment/woodlands/dutchelms. Sightings of diseased trees can be reported by:

- calling 0345 60 80 190

- reporting a fault via the East Sussex County Council website

- emailing dutchelmdisease@eastsussex.gov.uk

- commenting on Facebook at www.facebook.com/elmseastsussex

Details of the location of the tree, the name of the property and property owner, the number of trees infected and how much of the tree appears affected are needed.