Notre Dame Is Going to Need Some Very Old Trees

It's to be rebuilt exactly as it was after 2019 fire
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2021 1:59 AM CST
France Needs 1.5K Ancient Oaks for Notre Dame Rebuild
FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2020, file photo, police officers stand guard near Notre Dame church in Nice, southern France.   (Eric Gaillard/Pool Photo via AP, File)

France is in need of some very old trees. Between 150 and 200 years old, to be exact. But it's for a good cause: The country is rebuilding the spire of the 850-year-old Notre Dame cathedral, destroyed in a fire in 2019, exactly as it was built when it was added in 1859. That means 1,500 oak trees will be needed, and in addition to the centuries of age required, they must also be straight, with a diameter between 20 and 36 inches, and between 26 and 46 feet tall. "This is about ancient forestry heritage, not 20-year-old trees, but those that are very old, including plantations ordered by former kings to build ships and ensure the grandeur of the French fleet," the deputy director of the National Forests Office says, per the Guardian. She says new trees are being planted "so future generations can create their own exceptional works.”

The trees must be cut down by the end of next month in order to avoid the sap rising and making the wood too humid. After they are chopped down, the trunks will be dried for a year and a half, then cut into beams. Some private forest owners are lining up for the honor. "It will be a matter of pride if some of our trees are used for Notre Dame," says one. "It also shows how our forests are well maintained and are an asset for the country." Work on the restoration is expected to begin in 2022, and President Emmanuel Macron has set a target date of 2024 for completion. The BBC reported last year that the original Gothic design will be used for the spire, despite Macron previously hinting he was OK with the idea of a "contemporary gesture." (More Notre Dame Cathedral stories.)

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