Sadness as ‘unique’ tree at Peterborough’s Ferry Meadows felled due to Dutch elm disease

Dutch elm disease tree felled at Ferry Meadows. Steve Wickens using the chainsaw. EMN-180608-153528009
Dutch elm disease tree felled at Ferry Meadows. Steve Wickens using the chainsaw. EMN-180608-153528009
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The demise of a tree which is around 148 years old due to Dutch elm disease has saddened staff at Ferry Meadows.

The “pretty unique specimen” which is around 148 years old was reluctantly chopped down next to the Visitor Centre at the country park yesterday after it became clear the infection had killed the tree.

The felled tree. EMN-180608-153539009

The felled tree. EMN-180608-153539009

Dutch elm disease is spread from infected trees to healthy trees by elm bark beetles.

The fungal illness became an epidemic back in the 1970s with millions of elm trees dying.

Park manager Greg Higby said: “The disease is always around but the big difference this year is one of the special elm trees has been hit for the first time.

“It’s one of the big specimens we have lost. It was about 148 years old and there are not many in the UK. We have four and they are pretty unique specimen trees.

“We spend a lot of money on them.”

Mr Higby believes the tree became infected last autumn, adding: “It’s come up through the trunk and there’s nothing we can do, so we made the decision to fell the tree. It’s very sad.

“The beetle carries the fungus and when it is warm weather the beetles are a lot more active.

“We have done the best we can to keep these trees going but the staff are a bit deflated.

“We have been winning, but on this occasion we lost the battle. Now we are doing everything we can to protect the three which remain.”