A NEW species of disease-resistant elm trees are to be planted in Herefordshire next week.

The trees are to be planted at the Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT)’s Awnells Farm in Much Marcle, Herefordshire near Ledbury or between Ledbury and Ross-on-Wye.

Ten new hybrid trees, pioneered by Herefordshire tree warden Tony Norman and his team, are resistant to diseases that have previously decimated the British elm population.

The CRT’s Awnells Farm lost 200 trees due to the spread of Dutch elm disease in the late 1960s and 1970s. By planting ten new trees, the CRT hopes to restore an important element of the countryside ecosystem.

Elm trees support 187 lichen species and 82 insect species, including the whiteletter hairstreak butterfly, which has suffered a 93 per cent population decline over the past 50 years.

The new trees will start to be planted next week by local volunteers.

The CRT is also asking for help from the local community to purchase essential equipment for their team of volunteers who will be planting the trees.

The equipment, such as spades, gloves and loopers, will continue to be used in the months and years ahead to support the CRT’s conservation activities in Herefordshire.

Ruth Moss, Herefordshire wildlife monitoring officer, said: “CRT is dedicated to restoring our beautiful British countryside, and planting ten new disease-resistant elms at Awnells Farm is an important step on that journey.

“These elms make an enormous contribution to the farm’s ecosystem and support an abundance of wildlife.

“Once a common sight in hedgerows across Herefordshire, the CRT is being gifted an exciting new hybrid species that we hope will thrive and help reverse the decline in rare species. While ten is a positive step forward, our ambition is to plant many more.”