Overwh′elm′ing support for experiment

09.03.2011

Local water workers are the biggest North East participants in a national experiment that hopes to unlock a natural mystery.

The Conservation Foundation has created the ‘Great British Elm Experiment’; an attempt to discover why some trees survived Dutch elm disease, a virus that wiped out over 25 millions trees in the UK.

Cuttings taken from mature parent trees found growing in the British countryside – which appear to have resisted Dutch elm disease for over 60 years – have been skilfully micro propagated (the practice of rapidly multiplying unusual plants). The resulting saplings are being distributed to hundreds of schools, community groups, local authorities and private landowners who have signed up to take part in the ‘Great British Elm Experiment’.

Northumbrian Water is planting 20 of the saplings in total – twelve at 2pm at Derwent Reservoir on Friday 11 March 2011 and the remaining eight at Fullwell Pumping Station later this month.

Mark Morris, conservation advisor for Northumbrian Water, said: “We don’t know yet why these saplings resist disease but it will be fascinating to find out.

“We were restoring hedgerow at Derwent Reservoir and it is an ideal site for the trees. We’re delighted to be involved with the experiment and hopefully in 30 years time the trees will be doing really well.”

Participants in the experiment are being asked to log their tree’s progress over the long term on a specially developed ‘elm map’ - http://www.conservationfoundation.co.uk/elms.php?/elm/map.

David Shreeve, director of The Conservation Foundation, added: “We’re delighted to have Northumbrian Water on board. Our goal is to interest a new generation in the elm as it was so much a feature of the British life and landscape for centuries.”

For more information go to www.conservationfoundation.co.uk.

For further information contact Philippa Clark on 0191 301 5538 or email philippa.clark@nwl.co.uk.

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