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Dutch Elm Disease - the story since 1992 23 February 2006

    Dutch Elm Disease was first identified in the Island in 1992. The limited spread of the disease here is one of our great success stories.

    In the United Kingdom, a period of 10 - 15 years resulted in the almost total loss of elm trees from the landscape.

    In the Island, elm makes up 25% of our countryside trees, so its loss would have a devastating impact on the landscape if the UK pattern was repeated here. The actual loss owing to direct infection by the fungus since 1992 has been just 416 trees, including small saplings. This represents less than one-fifth of one per cent of the elm population. During 2005, a total of 32 elms were identified as suffering from this aggressive disease.

    What is the reason for the disease-spread being so different to that experienced elsewhere in Britain?

    Our climate reduces the activity of the bark beetle which transfers the disease from tree to tree. However, the species of bark beetle which has caused the most damage elsewhere has yet to be detected here. The Department undertakes surveys around the Island each year to trap these beetles. As long as this carrier of the disease remains absent, the Department is confident that the Island's elm population remains secure.

    The disease has been of epidemic proportions elsewhere in Britain and Western Europe. The Island is now unique in the region for its elm population.

    The Minister, Phil Gawne MHK, is very supportive of the work done by the Forestry Divsion in this area, noting how the countryside and its contribution to the quality of life on the Island has received widespread recognition in recent years. An important factor in this work is the 100% financial support from Government for the destruction of diseased elm trees, which is set to continue.

    For further information, please contact Mr R G Pollard, Chief Forestry Officer (telephone 801263).

    23rd February 2006

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