Elms Planted in Sussex Stronghold

Project Location: Cuckmere Valley, Sussex
Start Date: March 2015
Est. completion Date: December 2015

The Ulmus commonly known as the elm, takes centre stage in ITF’s Community Tree Planting scheme through a project run by the Conservation Foundation. Over the next twelve months 120 English, Field, Wych and Huntingdon elms will be planted in three Sussex villages in the Cuckmere valley.

The Sussex coast is a stronghold for this beleaguered tree which was almost wiped out by Dutch elm disease. During the past year the Conservation Foundation has been running the Ulmus Maritime project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to help protect the elms in the area and to regenerate the population.

Funding from ITF and Worktop Express will extend the project not only through planting trees but also involving the local community in collecting seeds from local trees for Kew Garden’s Millennium Seed Bank.

In early autumn next year the project will be commemorated with ceremonial plantings followed by a nature walk linking the three villages to look at some of the surviving mature elms.

James Coleman, the Project Officer for The Conservation Foundation told us plans for the care of the trees in the future “each planting site will have a designated guardian to look after the saplings and send updates on their development every 6 months”.

TREE FOCUS: Ulmus glabra is known as the wych elm and because of its former profusion in Scotland it is also called the Scots elm. It has the widest distribution of elm trees from the Arctic Circle to mountains in Greece and it is even found in Iran. In Scotland some have been planted on the Shetland Islands but most were in the Borders in elm forests although most are now limited to field margins. The Tree Register of Britain and Ireland lists a wych elm at Bishop Burton near Beverley in Yorkshire as the UK’s largest.

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