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Diseased campus elm tree to be pruned

This veteran elm tree by Bramber House is to be pruned because it is infected with Dutch elm disease.

A veteran elm tree on campus will be pruned this weekend (from Saturday 9 February) because it is infected with Dutch elm disease.

Tree surgeons will remove its upper branches (a procedure known as ‘pollarding’) as well as bark from the tree trunk.

The 10.5 metre tree – which is estimated to be somewhere between 110 and 124 years old - is located near Bramber House. 

Because of its great age and distinctive hollow trunk, this particular elm (affectionately known as “the hole”) is an established feature on campus and has been familiar to staff and students over many seasons.

The diseased elm was identified during routine inspections by the Sussex Estates and Facilities (SEF) grounds department, and in conjunction with Brighton and Hove County Council’s Dutch elm management programme.

Ashley Wilcox, Grounds Manager for SEF, says: “It’s a real shame that we have to cut down any trees, but prompt action to deal with infected elm trees is the only way to limit the spread of this devastating fungal disease across campus.

“Despite our attempts over the past two years to treat this diseased elm, we have now reached the point where it would be dangerous to leave the tree as it is.”

The aim is to keep the tree trunk in place so that social insects - such as ants, bees, termites, and wasps - and birds can live in it. The trunk will also be used by Sussex students for nature study and scientific inquiry.

The bark and branches will be burnt at a site well away from any other elms, so that the fungus is less likely to be transmitted to them.

Ashley says:  “By removing and burning the bark from this old tree, we will also be getting rid of the fungus – as well as the elm beetles who transmit the fungus.

“Dutch elm disease has killed millions of elm trees since its arrival in the UK in 1971 and, in the long term, our actions this week will help to protect the other elms on campus.”


Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex and SEF
Last updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2019

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