One of Amherst’s remaining healthy elm trees was inoculated against Dutch Elm disease on Monday, June 8, 2020.
The tree, located in Christie Park on Albion Street, was injected with Dutch Trig, an organic vaccine, by arborist Rory Fraser of the Maritime Elm Protection Initiative Pilot Project, a Sackville, N.B.-based organization that is working to protect and save elm trees.
The vaccine consists of spores from a strain of Verticillium fungus that activates the elm’s natural defence mechanisms against the disease that is spread by beetles that feed under the bark. It was injected through the bark near the base of the tree.
Because the tree adds rings each year, the inoculation will become an annual springtime event.
“This project will help to protect one of our last healthy, publicly owned elm trees,” Chelsea Baird, Town of Amherst horticulturist, said.
Baird noted many of the town’s stately elms have been lost to Dutch Elm disease, especially on Victoria Street East and the surrounding areas where the streetscape has been drastically altered as a result of the disease killing dozens of elms trees since it arrived in town in the 1980s.
“Unfortunately, we cannot turn back time and save all the elms that were lost in the past due to Dutch Elm disease,” she said. “What we can do is work towards being more proactive and be better at protecting our urban forest through initiatives like this one.
“Trees, especially urban trees, are some of the most valuable resources we have. Not only do trees reduce air and noise pollution and provide us with clean air to breath, they also reduce storm water runoff, help to reduce temperatures within our towns and cities and add to the well-being of a community
“The longer we can keep our older, mature trees healthy and standing, the better off and healthier we are as a community.”