Dutch Elm Disease

In the early 1970’s the dreaded Dutch Elm disease was rampant in this country. The country’s population of elm trees looked likely to be wiped out by the pernicious little beetles that were the cause of the trouble. One of the worries was that because elm trees, despite being large trees, are notoriously shallow rooters, dead trees could be blown over by the merest puff of wind. Many of the elm trees in this country were in public parks, beside highways, footpaths and in private gardens. A large elm tree in falling could cause considerable damage to property and even more worrying, was the risk to human life.

In order to check the extent of the problem the government asked county authorities to undertake detailed surveys of all elm trees in their area. The county authority passed the problem to district authorities who then moved it along to Parish councils. In Congresbury the Horticultural Society undertook to carry out this survey for the parish. Working from the large scale ordnance map, six teams of members each made a detailed investigation of their part of the Parish. Every elm tree in the parish was listed, its size, condition, map co-ordinates and potential danger to life were noted. The work of the teams was co-ordinated by the President and Chairman of that time and a detailed survey was produced for the Parish Council - earning the Society the warmest praise from that body.