Future Trees Trust has published a review of the state of play with elm in the UK.

The review was undertaken by Karen Russell, an independent woodland management and tree improvement consultant who has spent over 25 years specialising in broad-leaved trees. She is also a Future Trees Trust secretary for the cherry and sweet chestnut species groups.

Karen gathered the information relating to the use of elm, plant collections, trials, breeding work, mature trees and population locations plus research from a wide range of individuals and organisations. Most were predominately located in England and contributed freely to the project.

Discussions with the key private individuals and the Conservation Foundation, Woodland Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Forest Research determined the interests, strengths and opportunities for collaboration plus priorities for further work. 

Karen explained: “In undertaking this project, it has become very apparent to me that elm, as a tree and for its timber, is held in great regard.  It was our second most important timber broadleaf tree after oak. Elm still supports a wide range of biodiversity.

“By working together to promote the use of elm, and to understand why some trees are able to avoid or resist Dutch Elm Disease, private individuals and organisations now have a great opportunity to enable the return of elm to our countryside and communities.”  

Royal Botanical Gardens senior research leader Richard Buggs undertook a literature review and prepared ‘Prospects for genomic research on Elm Resistance to Dutch Elm Disease’. Information was reviewed to provide the overview summary of key findings and recommendations.

Tim Rowland, CEO for Future Trees Trust, said: “This is an important report, bringing together, as it does, much of the work done by the many elm enthusiasts and experts across the UK for the first time.

“It’s clear that there’s a lot of love for elm and our report shows that there’s much to be hopeful about. We now need to work together with all the other stakeholders to ensure the brightest possible hope for the return of this iconic species to our countryside.”

The full report is available on the Future Trees Trust website.