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A Resistant Elm on the Horizon

Availability of a 100% disease resistant Elm hybrid prompts questions on provenance & climate resilience for British Forestry…

The BBC science & environment reporter Helen Briggs reported today on the promise of disease-free Elms – read her article here

Citing them as potential saviours of the British countryside in light of the outbreak of Ash Dieback the article focuses on widely available varieties like Ulmus x hollandica ‘vegeta’ which show resistance to the disease. Interesting stuff!

 

New Horizons

Even more interesting to us however, was the article in the Autumn issue of the Chartered Forester magazine. It gives a more specific profile of the ‘Resistant Elm’ (Ulmus new horizons), which is shown to be not just slightly resistance, but bred from Ulmus japonica and Ulmus pumila 60 years ago is shown to be 100% resistant and as such disease free.

chartered forest magazine cover chartered forester magazine article on elms

This is welcome news to silviculturists, forest managers and forest owners that are battling new pests and diseases every year in a rapidly changing climate. With all the discussion on diversifying our planting species it is comforting to think we could turn again to a native tree that has been ruled out for a generation.

 

New Advice

So the times they are a’changin’ and fast! and we have our antennae up listening for new information, research and guidance that doesn’t always come in loud and clear.

Various conservation based NGO’s are advocating a totally native mixture of trees for our forests and woodlands (which would exclude the Resistant Elm hybrid) and the sourcing of only homegrown tree stock for planting.

This appears to be at odds with advice from Chris Reynolds at Forest Research who writes here on provenance showing that trees from 2-3 degrees south are thought to better tolerate the predicted climate in the UK.

It’s clear we all need to be planting for resilience for our future forests future and it helps to have up to date research and data on which to base our decisions rather than nostalgia but it’s also clear we need more data, or at least a unified message.

is it right to be planting non-homegrown, non-native climate resilient strains of tree species?

 

New Hopes

Our hope is that tree science from the likes of Forest Research will show us all the way, providing data and advice so we can confidently make decisions on behalf of our clients and their forest futures.

Right now Hillier Nurseries in Hampshire are currently supplying the Resistant Elm, but only at 12 inch girth. The hope is that in the near future they will be propagating the tree for large scale planting.

Who knows, maybe in the next five years Elm could be back on the planting list?

 

MORE

For more information about woodland creation, woodland health & woodlands management get in touch with a member of our team for a free initial consultation

EVEN MORE

For more on Forest Research click here

For more on Hillier Tree Nursery click here

For more on The Institute of Chartered Foresters click here

For more on BBC science & environment news click here

Thanks for reading folks, if you haven’t had enough forestry info yet click here to see more from our Forestry Blog

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