Watch out for Dutch Elm disease

IF YOU are going out to explore the East Sussex countryside this summer, you can help fight Dutch elm disease by keeping an eye out for sick trees and reporting them to East Sussex County Council.

East Sussex now contains the only population of mature English elms in the world and the Dutch elm disease control area established in 1973 has helped to protect them. The area extends from Eastbourne to Brighton, roughly south of the Lewes-Polegate railway to the sea.

County asks walkers, cyclists and horse riders to alert us if they see trees affected by the disease in this area. They can be identified by the brown and yellow wilting leaves at the tips of the branches. These gradually spread throughout the canopy as the tree shuts off its water supply, hoping to trap the fungus in the infected limb.

Dutch elm disease has killed millions of elm trees in the UK since its arrival in 1971 and the only way to reduce the spread of the disease is to fell and burn those trees that have been infected.

The county council took back the management of Dutch elm disease within the East Sussex control area on April 1 this year. This role had previously been the responsibility of the South Downs Joint Committee which was disbanded with the creation of the new South Downs National Park.

A full-time specialist Dutch Elm Disease Officer works with an enthusiastic team of 26 Elm Protection Volunteers. Hundreds of infected trees have been seen since April.

Report diseased trees by using the online “report a fault” system at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/reportafault or send an email to: dutchelmdisease@eastsussex.gov.uk or phone:0345 60 80 193.