The 2016 International Elm Conference, chaired by Dr David Herling and hosted by the Lees Court Estate in Kent, UK, on June 9th, brought together elm experts from across Europe.
The new elms in the future
We are finding that nature is more changeable than we thought up to recently. We, as tree people, suffer considerably by these changes. Tree species that we trusted to be durable and dependable, appear to have developed serious weaknesses, due to (new) insects or diseases, so that we do not recommend their planting as freely as we did before. Think of ash and of horse chestnut ; even our good old oak has serious troubles, and has come under suspicion. Their future is much less secure than we used to think.
Nearly a century ago, the elm was the first large-scale victim of such a change, due to the introduction of Dutch elm disease, which ruined whole landscapes. But now, the future of the new elm varieties seems bright. They might fill some of the gaps the other tree species have left. First of all, elms are very flexible and adapted to a wide range of conditions. Many old clones such as ‘Belgica’ and ‘Atinia’ grow very well on an amazingly wide range of soils, and there are old and new genotypes that do well on extremely dry or on waterlogged soils . In other words: while there is a fear among biologists of a general loss of biodiversity, this can be partially counteracted among trees by the utilisation of selected groups of elms: they will bring in a lot of new and different biodiversity into the tree ecosystems.
There is also flexibility in the use of elm products. We know that elm foliage and young bark are nutritious: now the city of Amsterdam is growing hundreds of elms to produce leafy shoots for the elephants in the Amsterdam zoo: it is their favoured food!
I wish you a pleasant and fruitful meeting!
For further information on the 2016 conference, including abstracts, please refer to the conference pack:
The 2016 International Elm Conference pack
Dr. David Herling
Prof. Alberto Santini, Italian National Research Council
Lights and shadows of a possible strategy to cope with alien and destructive forest pathogens: the example of breeding for DED resistance in Italy
Prof. Juan A. Martin, Technical University of Madrid, Spain
The obtaining and use of elms resistant to Ophiostoma nova-ulmi in Spain - past experiences and future prospects
Dr. Max Coleman, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland
Attack of the Clones
Ulmen Handbuch - Dr Gordon Mackenthun's guide to elms (in German)
Elms Alive/Olmos Vivos - Prof. Juan Martin and Madrid University's EU elm breeding programme
Italian Institue for Sustainable Plant Protection - Research of Prof. Alberto Santini
Noordplant - Ronnie Nijboer and Noordplant's Resista-elm programme
Butterfly Conservation trials - Andrew Brookes' report on resistant elms and WLH butterfly
3rd International Elm Conference - 2013 International Elm Conference in Florence, Italy
2015 Brighton Elm Seminar - Links to presentations and information on the Brighton seminar
The conference was made possible thanks to the kind support of the Nineveh Charitable Trust.