Photo Credit: Bill Dale
‘See it. Snap it. Send it.’
That is the call from the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) as it asks the public to help prevent the spread of deadly Dutch elm disease.
In a poster and leaflet campaign, the Department is calling on those out and about to take photos and note locations of trees they fear have the disease.
Diseased trees have:
- Wilting leaves and young shoots
- Premature yellowing or discolouration of leaves
- Retention of dead leaves or bare twigs and branches.
Symptoms develop rapidly, leading to the death of trees.
The UK lost 90% of its elms to Dutch elm disease between 1968 and 1980.
The decimation of the elm population, especially in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, altered the landscape forever.
The Isle of Man remained disease-free until 1992 but local vigilance and control measures mean that only 1% of the Island’s elms have succumbed to the disease since it arrived.
David Cretney MLC, Member of DEFA with responsibility for forestry, said:
‘The Isle of Man has arguably the most important native elm population in the British Isles and possibly Europe.
‘Elms make up around a quarter of the Island’s tree population. As with the UK, the loss of a large number of trees would alter the countryside forever and create significant risk and cost to landowners.
‘While DEFA can be proud that it has kept the disease under control, it requires constant vigilance. Every year we need to find as many diseased trees as possible.
‘We hope the public will report anything suspicious while using our beautiful countryside and ensure we can take swift action to avoid the disease spreading.
‘As so many people have mobile devices with them, the message is simple: See it, snap it, send it together with a six-figure grid reference and location and we’ll investigate,’
Mr Cretney said.
The disease has meant few elms have been planted in the Island in recent years.
With Minister Geoffrey Boot MHK, Mr Cretney today planted the first of a new disease-resistant breed of elm, Ulmus ‘New Horizon’, at DEFA headquarters at St John’s.
In conjunction with nine local authorities, eleven more trees will be planted in prominent locations around the Island.
‘Elms contribute to the character of the Manx landscape and its biodiversity value, supporting various species of lichen, fungi and insects,’
Mr Cretney said.
‘By planting disease-resistant trees in prominent locations, we hope to remind people of the unique status of the elm on our Island and encourage people to get involved in helping us fight Dutch elm disease.’