This was the first of our 2021/22 series but sadly, we had to postpone the talk by Simon Smart of Black Sheep Countryside Management a consulting business for farmers across the downland landscape. Instead, our Chairman Peter Shallcross gave a talk about the work being done to restore disease-free elm trees to our countryside.
Most of you will know about the broad context of the topic: the decline of elm trees across the UK, ravaged by Dutch elm disease that has devastated huge areas of the countryside. If you’re unaware, or want to see an example of the disease progressing through a relatively young specimen, now is an ideal time. Dick Budden says that if you drive past his house (Chicksgrove Close, on the right hand side as you head out of Tisbury) you will see the elm in question growing out of the hedgerow just East of the entrance, with the leaves closest to the road prematurely withered while the rest of the tree still looks healthy – not merely an early sign of autumn’s approach. The tree may last another 12months or so, it seems, before it is completely dead and inevitably needs to be felled.
Peter described the origins and progress of the disease and its implications for wildlife. He talked about the initiative he's involved in to support the national programme for recovery and the re-population of our area that he is actively engaged in.
Photo: Barn owl
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