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Historic Preston Park Twin to be felled following elm disease infection

One of the oldest elm trees in the country is to be felled after it was found to be infected with elm disease.

The Preston Park Twins, which are situated at the north end of Preston Park are around 400 years old, making them among the oldest elm trees in the UK. One of the trees has recently been found to be infected with elm disease and will now require removal. 

Stopping the spread of the disease

It is likely that the tree became infected late last summer but had until now not displayed any symptoms. The disease is already into the trees root system and fast action is required to stop the disease spreading to its twin.

A programme of work started on Wednesday 3 July when contractors will dig trenches and sever the connecting roots that link the trees together. We are closely monitoring nearby trees so that any further problems can be dealt with.

Protecting the city's National Elm Collection

Every summer a battle is waged across the city against a tiny beetle carrying a deadly elm tree killing fungus known as Elm Disease or Dutch Elm Disease. Losses of trees to the disease have been manageable over the years thanks to a council-led control campaign.

The Elm remains the dominant tree throughout the city, with an estimated growing population of over 17,000 trees which we continue to add to.

How you can help protect our trees

The current hot weather will most likely result in further cases of diseased elms in the city. We urge residents to report any sick looking elms so that we can respond quickly.

One of the most likely ways for a tree to become infected by Elm Disease is via beetles breeding on elm logs stored in the area. These logs may have been brought in from other parts of East Sussex where there has been a massive rise in trees becoming infected and subsequent logs becoming available.

In recent years, there has also been a rapid increase in the number of wood burning stoves being sold in the area, increasing the risk of contaminated wood coming into the city.

Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, Councillor Anne Pissaridou said: “For many years, we have fully funded an internationally recognised control campaign to contain the spread of elm disease in the city. Our success has led to the city becoming the holder of the National Elm Collection and the last major bastion of the Elm in the UK.

“It is very sad that we have lost one of the magnificent Preston Park Twins to the disease this year. Overall, losses to elm disease have been manageable throughout the years and our elm population is always being added to.

“We thank residents for their continued support in spotting and reporting cases of elm disease which helps us act quickly to treat trees and reduce contamination.”

Free inspection of trees, firewood and timber

The council’s arboricultural team offer a free inspection of firewood and other timber. Similarly, if you have an elm tree in your garden that may be dead or dying, we are happy to come out and inspect it free of charge. Anyone wanting to use the service can contact the team by