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Notre Dame: After centuries within the floor, these French oaks will quickly kind a part of the brand new spire

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Written by Saskya Vandoorne, CNN

Deep within the former royal forest of Bercé, in France’s Loire area, a 230-year-old tree comes crashing to the bottom with thunderous depth.

Only a sapling throughout the French Revolution, the 65-foot-tall oak tree is one in all many being felled as a part of ongoing efforts to rebuild Notre Dame.

A 200-year-old oak tree comes down as a part of Notre Dame rebuild efforts. Credit score: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Photos

The tree finally will be part of 1,000 different oaks getting used to reconstruct the wood lattice of the roof and substitute the bottom of the fallen spire engulfed by the blaze that devastated the Gothic constructing nearly two years in the past, in April 2019.

“We all know it is the tip of one thing, but it surely’s additionally the start,” stated Pauline Delord, a Fifteenth-generation forest guardian accountable for defending and managing the forest.

Her colleague Claire Quinones agrees. “It is one of the best second life we can provide (the tree),” she stated.

Final summer season, French president Emmanuel Macron dropped the concept of a recent redesign for Notre Dame’s 315-foot spire — initially added by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc in 1859 — earlier than opting as an alternative for an similar restoration. The choice kickstarted a months-long hunt for the right oaks with the potential to satisfy the exacting calls for of architects Philippe Villeneuve and Remi Fromont, who had been introduced in to supervise the reconstruction course of.
Lumberjacks work on the felling of oak trees selected for use in the reconstruction of Notre Dame.

Lumberjacks work on the felling of oak bushes chosen to be used within the reconstruction of Notre Dame. Credit score: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/AFP through Getty Photos

This winter, drones had been used to scan a snow-dusted forest close to Le Mans in the hunt for the primary eight trunks that may be used to help the spire. The drones, with the assistance of 3D imagery, had been used to hunt out specimens measuring 3 ft large and over 60 ft tall, with no seen defects. The slender bushes in Bercé have a slight curve that makes them splendid for the spire.

The chosen bushes can be felled earlier than the tip of March and dried for 12 to 18 months to verify the beams will not shrink or transfer as soon as in place.

Notre Dame in December 2020.

Notre Dame in December 2020. Credit score: Mario Fourmy/Abaca/Sipa

In line with the military normal in command of the reconstruction of Notre Dame, these bushes had been planted underneath King Louis XIV’s reign with a view to present wooden to construct the masts for ships belonging to the French navy.

“We’re poor individuals who solely reside 60, 70, 80, 100 years most. However the bushes are right here after,” Normal Jean-Louis Georgelin stated. “We acknowledge the humility of the human being in entrance of the immensity of the universe.”

Along with the eight oaks coming down in Bercé, extra bushes have been donated from over 200 forests throughout the nation — the 4 corners of France can be represented inside the cathedral as soon as constructing work is full.

A petition addressed to France’s ecology minister has known as for a cease to the tree reducing, however forestry teams say the variety of bushes being felled represents a tiny proportion of the oaks harvested every year in France.

Notre Dame is scheduled to reopen in 2024, however with delays that occurred final yr because of the Covid-19 pandemic — and with giant quantities of lead mud on the website posing a contamination danger — many imagine the date set by Macron is unrealistic. Normal Georgelin, nonetheless, stays adamant. “We are going to reopen the cathedral in 2024, little question about that,” he stated.

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