In a former royal forest in France, four 200-year-old oaks are being felled for wood to reconstruct Notre Dame cathedral’s fallen spire.
Last July, French president Emmanuel Macron ended speculation over the reconstruction plans, announcing that the spire of the Paris monument would be rebuilt exactly as it was before the April 2019 blaze that severely damaged the cathedral.
A 230-year-old Sessile oak tree is selected to be used in the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral in France’s Foret de Berce.— AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 9, 2021
1,000 oaks are due to be hacked down by the end of March to rebuild the spire and roof of the cathedral, which was ravaged by fire in 2019 pic.twitter.com/nYE4s3SchT
That began a nationwide tree hunt.
The 93-metre-high spire, made of wood and clad in lead, was designed by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc in 1859.
In January and February, some 1,000 oaks in more than 200 French forests were selected for the frame of the transept and spire.
They are all set to be felled by the end of March, to prevent tree sap and moisture from entering the material.
The next step for the trunks from the Forest of Berce in the Loire region is for them to be laid out for up to a year and a half before being ready to cut.
The trees were originally planted hundreds of years ago to create wood for shipbuilding.
Many of them now measure some one meter wide and 18 metres high.
Mr Macron’s pledge to rebuild Notre Dame within five years, by 2024, has been widely dismissed as unrealistic.
There are concerns that the ancient trees don’t need to be used for the rebuild, a petition has been launched to stop cutting down these trees.
This is a petition to the French president to restore the Notre Dame cathedral without cutting hundreds of ancient oak trees for the spire as planned
This is a petition to the French president to restore the Notre Dame cathedral without cutting hundreds of ancient oak trees for the spire as planned https://t.co/EJZWJZjJj8— The Plant Initiative (@Plant_Init) March 3, 2021
The letter to Macron. reads as follows
Dear President Macron,
When Notre Dame Cathedral burned in 2019, millions of people around the world mourned with France and you pledged to rebuild quickly. These plans call for the sacrifice of up to 1,500 Oak trees, each 150-200 years old, by the end of March 2021 to restore the cathedral’s spire.
Throughout Europe, Oak groves were the first “cathedrals”—places of community, sanctuary, worship, and restoration for the mind, body, and spirit. Modern science validates the numerous benefits of spending time in their company.
Oaks are a keystone species, critical to the support and survival of entire ecosystems. A single Oak can provide food, shelter, and habitat for thousands of species of birds, insects, and animals.
Today, given our vastly improved knowledge and resources, it is possible to preserve the history of Notre Dame and also preserve the future of the Oaks.
You have pledged to rebuild Notre Dame in time for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. What better opportunity to lead, to showcase to the world France’s commitments to innovation and the planet—and to serve as an ecologically-minded model for restoration in the 21st century—than to rebuild Notre Dame without sacrificing the Oaks and the countless lives who depend on them?
President Macron, you and your people have great pride and passion for France and your history. You also have an opportunity to ally yourselves with the future, if you allow the Oak Elders to live. Please find an alternative solution for restoring the spire that is viable for all lives.