Right disease, wrong elm tree

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Editor:

In response to the article on Feb 13th, on the efforts by the City of Charlottetown to cope with the loss of stately elm trees and the replanting of public spaces with new trees. The loss of elms that have graced our squares and parks for over 100 years continues to have a dramatic impact on the historic streetscape. The knowledge that procedures similar to Winnipeg or Fredericton if followed in  Charlottetown could have averted the scale of this crisis does make it hard to accept. We continue to see the losses increase each year as the predicted impact of this disease is being felt.

While experts agree that we need an inventory of the urban canopy and active monitoring with immediate removal of all dead elm trees, bark and stumps on public and private lands, another year has passed without this being fully implemented.

The article has a minor error calling the trees Dutch elm, while the trees involved are American elm. The disease acts through a fungus hitchhiking on elm bark beetles and thus the vector-borne disease was difficult to identify before a keen team of female scientists in Holland cracked the case in 1921. While a tree species known as Dutch elm exists in Europe and the UK, it was following the Dutch scientific breakthrough in identifying a global disease that the name Dutch elm disease (DED) was coined.

Ian Scott,

Charlottetown

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Winnipeg, Fredericton Holland Europe UK

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