Expert’s tree gift

PUBLISHED: 16:25 10 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:35 12 August 2010

CHILDREN are to receive a young elm for their school as part of a campaign to educate them about the ill-fated trees.

CHILDREN are to receive a young elm for their school as part of a campaign to educate them about the ill-fated trees.

Parish Church of England Primary School, in London Lane, Bromley will be one of 250 schools across Britain to benefit from the scheme launched by naturalist David Bellamy.

The initiative through The Conservation Foundation's Great British Elm Experiment, marks the start of spring in the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity.

It seeks to unlock the mystery of why some trees survived Dutch elm disease which is estimated to have killed 25 million elms from the 1960s onwards.

It is part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of Elms Across Europe, the project which led David Bellamy and David Shreeve to set up the Foundation in 1982.

David Shreeve said: "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." The school will be asked to log their tree's progress over the years including height, girth, biodiversity and any signs of Dutch elm disease.

Members of the Conservation Foundation hope that with time, and luck, a new generation of elms will become established throughout the country and a new generation will be encouraged to have an interest in them and their biodiversity.

The campaign is using young trees propagated from mature healthy native elms which the Foundation discovered still growing in the English countryside.

If the Parish School elm proves to be a success, it is hoped that more schools in the area will be offered a tree in the autumn

. The small tree will be accompanied by a certificate showing its species and the location of its parent tree and a poster with growing tips and project ideas.

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