Sheffield elm misses out on Tree of the Year title

Campaigners highlight the plight of the Chelsea Road elm.
Campaigners highlight the plight of the Chelsea Road elm.
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A Sheffield elm threatened with felling came second in a competition to find the country's favourite tree.

The Huntingdon elm on the corner of Chelsea Road in Nether Edge was the runner up in the Woodland Trust's Tree of the Year contest, the final of which was broadcast on Channel 4 on Saturday.

The elm is thought to be about 120 years old, and campaigners are fighting to save it from being felled under Sheffield Council's Streets Ahead programme with private contractor Amey.

The rare white letter hairstreak butterfly has been spotted in the tree this year.

Campaigner Paul Selby, who nominated the elm, said: “I’m proud that the UK public has recognised the national importance of this tree.

"It’s a rare tree, surviving the ravages of Dutch elm disease, and is host to a butterfly species that has declined by 97 per cent in the last 40 years.

"Sadly Sheffield Council fails to see this. To them it is just another insignificant piece of timber for felling.

"Regardless of whether this tree is ultimately saved from felling, there are countless other Sheffield street trees at risk.

"I only hope that the national recognition of the elm tree helps to highlight the destructive folly of Sheffield Council's behaviour in felling half its mature street trees."

Campaigners will receive £500 from the Woodland Trust, which can be used to arrange a health check from an arboriculturalist, provide interpretation or educational materials or hold a celebratory event in honour of the tree.

Trust chief executive Beccy Speight said: “Trees like the Chelsea Road elm have stood for many, many years and each will have a special place in peoples’ lives.

"By celebrating them and reminding people of their value we hope to support and influence those who can ensure they continue to thrive for future generations.”

The competition winner was the 'sycamore gap' tree in Northumberland. The tree lies in a dramatic dip alongside Hadrian's Wall, and is one of the most photographed trees in the UK. It featured in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves in 1991.

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