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Sad end for Norwich's last mature elm, triggering concerns over loss of trees

PUBLISHED: 11:45 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:54 27 June 2019

The elm tree after it fell down. Photo: Peter Baughan

The elm tree after it fell down. Photo: Peter Baughan

Archant

Concerns have been raised about the loss of trees from Norwich, with the city's last mature elm tree having been removed after it came down in high winds.

The stump of the last mature elm in Norwich. Pic: Dan GrimmerThe stump of the last mature elm in Norwich. Pic: Dan Grimmer

The tree in Chapelfield Gardens had proved resistent to Dutch Elm Disease, but crashed to the ground a year ago and only its stump remains.

Green city councillors say they fear it is part of a trend of mature trees disappearing from the city's parks and private gardens.

Nigel Utton, Green city councillor for Thorpe Hamlet, raised the issue at a recent meeting of Norwich City Council. where he questioned what the council was doing to protect or replace trees.

Matthew Packer, Labour's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "The mature elm tree which came down recently was the last mature elm in the city and I was saddened to see its loss.

The elm tree in Elm Hill, pictured in 1977. Pic: Archant Library.The elm tree in Elm Hill, pictured in 1977. Pic: Archant Library.

"Rather than removing the stump, which would have been a normal approach, the stump was not removed and the arboricultural team contacted the Elm Preservation Society as a result of the tree being resistant to Dutch Elm Disease, for guidance on how to propagate hardwood cuttings.

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"The team is looking at a project to be delivered by volunteers from the community which would allow the elm to be replaced, but on a much wider scale.

"I hope that, although the mature elm has been lost, our work with the community will enable the city to have mature elms again in the future."

The stump of the elm tree in Elm Hill, after it was felled because of Dutch Elm Disease. Pic: Archant Library.The stump of the elm tree in Elm Hill, after it was felled because of Dutch Elm Disease. Pic: Archant Library.

Mr Packer said two lime trees had also been felled, due to the risk posed by decay, while five lime trees had been planted as replacements.

He said: "With one particularly prominent tree, that it was hoped to avoid having to remove, external advice was sought to establish more accurately the extent of internal decay.

"Ultimately the level of decay meant that the tree posed too high a risk to users of the park to retain."

Mr Packer said the city council had planted 250 trees this year and said the council carried out between 8,000 and 10,000 scheduled inspections each year, along with unplanned checks triggered by people's concerns or after bad weather.

Green city councillor Nigel Utton. Pic: Norwich Green PartyGreen city councillor Nigel Utton. Pic: Norwich Green Party

While the Chapelfield elm had proved resistent to Dutch Elm Disease, that was not the case for the tree which used to stand in Elm Hill. It was felled in 1979.

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