The Jeuns

‘Reintroduction of Elm Trees to the British countryside by Kent railway’

May 5, 2024 | by The Jeuns

Volunteers at the Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR) are playing a crucial role in reintroducing Elm trees to the British countryside. These trees were nearly wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s, but now efforts are underway to bring them back.

The railway’s Forestry & Conservation group, made up entirely of volunteers, is working on a tree planting program along the railway’s 10½-mile stretch from Tenterden to Bodiam. As part of this initiative, the group has planted ten Dutch Elm Disease-resistant species of standard Elm trees donated by Kent County Council.

These varieties of Elm trees not only resist diseases like Dutch Elm but also tolerate drought and water-logging, making them perfect for the railway’s lineside habitats. The young elm trees have been planted next to a two-acre wildflower meadow at Rolvenden, carefully chosen for its ecological benefits and easy access for monitoring and care.

In addition to their disease resistance, these Elm tree varieties are fast-growing and resilient, contributing to the biodiversity of their surroundings. The railway’s commitment to environmental conservation is evident in its efforts to reintroduce these important native trees to the British landscape.

The Kent & East Sussex Railway recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a diesel gala, showcasing its rich history and commitment to preserving heritage. The railway is also raising funds to safeguard its historic buildings, emphasizing the importance of preserving the past for future generations.

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