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Eastbourne trees hit by Dutch elm disease

Photo of Councillor Jonathan Dow

Eastbourne Borough Council is asking people to help prevent the spread of Dutch elm disease after it was forced to fell more than 50 infected trees.

The devastating fungal disease is transmitted by beetles that eat through infected bark and pass on the fungus as they move from tree to tree.

This month, the council has felled 37 diseased elms on Eastbourne streets, two in Ocklynge Cemetery and 15 from private properties in the town. A further 11 elm trees have had branches removed in an effort to save them.

Councillor Jonathan Dow, Cabinet member for Climate Change, said: "This is the worst start to the growing season for many years and it is hugely disappointing as we continue to lose many of our wonderful elms.

"While the reasons are not fully clear, we do know that keeping elm timber creates a breeding ground for the destructive bark beetles that carry the deadly fungus. So if anyone knows of stored elm timber or dead elms in a garden, please let us know."

Millions of trees across the country were lost to Dutch elm disease in the 1970s but some survived along the south coast as they were protected by their positioning between the English Channel and the South Downs.

In December, the council launched a wide-scale felling operation to tackle the airborne fungus ash dieback which had killed thousands of the town's trees.

Meanwhile, the council supports a number of initiatives including tree planting in Tugwell Park this autumn and is working closely with Eastbourne EcoAction Network volunteers to plant more trees.

Councillor Dow added: "We expect hundreds of trees to be planted across the town over the next 12 months and are choosing species that are resilient and indigenous to create sustainable tree populations for the future.

"While it is always disheartening to have to fell trees, we are working hard with residents' groups and charities on planting schemes that will keep our town looking green and healthy, and help off-set carbon emissions."

Please let the council know of any cases where elm timber is stored - contact us

Photo: Councillor Jonathan Dow