The Great British Elm Experiment

Great British Elm Experiment Logo. The text has been laid out so resemble the shape of a tree.

The Conservation Foundation is attempting to unlock the mystery of why some trees survived Dutch elm disease which wiped out over 25 million elms in the UK.

We are delighted to be taking part in this project of national importance, our Great British Elms!

Cuttings taken from mature trees that appear to have resisted Dutch elm disease for over 60 years have been skilfully micro propagated. 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.’ One such sampling can now be found on Kilkhampton Common, Cornwall.

“We want to interest a new generation in the elm, so much a feature of the British life and landscape for centuries and also to try and find out why some trees survived Dutch elm disease. So many have disappeared over recent years that we can only hope to replace some. But rather than just give up and forget the elm, we think it’s worth a try.” – David Shreeve, Director, The Conservation Foundation.

Height, girth, biodiversity and any signs of disease are being recorded and it is hoped that in time a new generation of elms will become established throughout the UK and a new generation of young people will be encouraged to have an interest in elms and biodiversity. The project also heralds hope for the White-letter hairstreak butterfly that relies on the elm for food.

This exciting project was launched during the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity. Partners in the project include MicroPropation Services, Millhouse Nurseries, Alba Trees and Trees Direct.

WCS have planted with the help of our newest volunteer, our elm from Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.

More information on the project here