A WARNING has been issued for people not to buy elm tree logs this winter due to a “devastating” disease which is killing off historic trees.

Brighton and Hove City Council is urging people not to bring elm logs into the city as they can carry bark beetles which spread elm disease.

It comes after a severe outbreak of the disease this summer due to hot weather, which put Brighton’s 17,000 elms at risk.

In July, infected trees were removed from the grounds of Woodvale Cemetery.

The Argus: A diseased elm tree at The Level, Brighton, in 2017. Photo: The Friends of Queen's ParkA diseased elm tree at The Level, Brighton, in 2017. Photo: The Friends of Queen's Park

Last year, one of the city’s two 400-year-old elms, known as The Twins, was felled in Preston Park after contracting the disease. It was planted in the reign of James I.

Councillor Amy Heley, chairwoman of the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “Brighton and Hove is rightly proud of its historic elm tree collection and the council is well known for protecting the trees.

“This year we’ve faced a higher than usual outbreak of the disease due to the warm summer, problems in accessing private land with diseased elms, and beetles coming in from outside the city.

“If the disease is not brought under control it could mean the city losing a large proportion of its 17,000 elms.

“Trees capture damaging carbon dioxide emissions, so every tree we protect helps the council in its drive to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The Argus: Cllr Amy HeleyCllr Amy Heley

“To ensure the survival of our trees, we must do everything possible to protect them from disease and that includes the city trying to become elm disease free.”

Elm disease can be caused by fungi that is transferred from diseased to healthy elms by elm bark beetles.

It can also be transferred underground between trees through the roots, or new trees growing from infected fragments following the removal of a diseased tree.

Anyone buying logs for their fires or wood burners this winter is urged to check with the seller the logs are not elm. The council is also calling on log traders to stop selling elm logs.

Councillor Heley said: “I hope traders understand the dangers they pose to our elm tree collection by selling elm logs and decide not to sell them.

“If anyone has already bought logs or has some in a wood store and is uncertain what they are, email elmdisease@brighton-hove.gov.uk and we’ll inspect them for you.

“If the logs are elm, we’ll dispose of them safely and give a similar quantity free of charge. Not buying, storing or selling elm logs will help us tackle the disease before next spring when the warmer weather begins.”