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BRITISH WOODLANDS:

AS THEY ARE AND AS THEY OUGHT TO BE.

BY THE RIGHT HON. SIR HERBERT MAXWELL, BART., M.P.

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If it be true, as no expert in rience, the usual result is that forestry has been found to dis- the woodland is run upon amapute, that no country in the teur lines, modified by local world has soil and climate custom, and proves a costly more perfectly adapted for the luxury. production of timber than the It is a common thing to hear United Kingdom, it follows travellers, on their return from that the trifling economic the United States and Canada, value of British and Irish deploring the wastefulness of woodlands must be owing the lumber trade, which denudes either to persistent neglect of vast tracks of their timber that source of profit, or to a without making any adequate vicious system of management, attempt at re- afforestation.

to both. British land. But it is beginning to dawn owners, as a class, cannot be upon our people that of all the charged with indifference to spendthrifts upon God's earth their woods. They prize them there is none worse in the as the chief ornaments of matter of wood management their estates, generally direct- than the British Government ing in person the operations of and the British landowner, and planting, thinning, and felling. that if we do not mend our But whereas it is the rarest ways there is all likelihood of a thing possible either for a land- timber famine, or, at best, such owner or his agent to have a rise in price as will tell serihad any training in economic ously upon our leading indusforestry, or for a forester to be tries. From the following table employed at such a salary as may be seen the prodigious will secure a man with sound rate at which our foreign timtechnical and commercial expe- ber imports are increasing :

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Paper, mostly made of wood pulp
Paper materials, mostly wood pulp

16,300,000

23,900,000 4,500,000 3,300,000

1,200,000 2,000,000

Total

19,500,000

31,700,000

own use.

no

we

can

we

Here we have an annual out that to attempt an accurate lay increased by more than 70 estimate of them was deemed per cent in twenty years upon too difficult an undertaking, à commodity which we ought have since then become reduced to produce for our

to such small proportions that Assuredly, every cubic foot of the end of the whole supply timber, every pound of pulp, in both Canada and the which come to us from abroad United States is now plainly might be grown on British soil, in view.” We still receive to the great advantage of our in Britain large supplies of rural population. Of course, pitch pine from the Southern we are a wealthy nation, and States, but who shall say how some may see need for long these will hold out in anxiety so long as

face of the increasing conafford to pay our way. But sumption ? we are not nearly so wealthy We certainly are in no posirelatively to certain other na- tion to meet the scarcity which tions as

were five - and - appears inevitable. Of all the twenty years ago, and wealthy countries in Europe, the United as we may continue in the Kingdom is that with the future, it would be but common smallest proportion of woodprudence to provide against a land. Compare our meagre prospective shortage in a pro- extent, 3.9 per cent to the enduct which is indispensable to tire area, with Sweden's 444 our chief industries. Prospec- per cent, with Russia's 36.0 tive, did I say? Nay, but per cent, Austria's 32-6 per some of our sources of supply cent, Germany's 25.8 per cent, have been dried up already. France's 17.7 per cent, and our The German empire, from real poverty must be recogwhose admirably managed for- nised. Even Greece, which ests we used to draw a large presents such a treeless aspect portion of our timber imports, to the ordinary tourist, posnow cannot supply her own sesses considerable forest wants; and although her forests sources, amounting to 15.8 per produce a gross annual value cent of her area. Reckoning of about £22,000,000, she has the woodland area of each to import more than 4,500,000 country in proportion to the tons

timber annually, population, the inferiority of valued at nearly £15,000,000. the United Kingdom is still So in America, the amazing more apparent, for we can only development of manufactures show 0:07

acre per head of in the United States has over- population against 25-77 acres taken the productiveness of per head in Finland, 0.66 acre their vast forests, so that per head in Germany, 1.20 acre thirteen years ago the Secre- per head in Greece. tary for Agriculture warned one doubts the value of forest his Government that “even land to a nation, let him turn the white pine resources, which to the report of the Secretary a few years ago seemed so great for Agriculture of the United

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of

If any

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States above quoted, rendered edited in 1892, is practically & in 1892:

new work containing the essence “The total annual product of wood of all that Dr Nisbet has writmaterial of all sorts consumed in the ten on the subject during the United States may be valued in last thirteen years, and retainround numbers at $1,000,000,000. ing only what was sound and

This value exceeds ten times useful, amid a great deal that the value of our gold and silver output, and three times the annual pro

was erroneous and mischievous, duct of all our mineral and coal in the original work. In fact, mines put together. It is three the only parts of Brown's treattimes the value of our wheat crop. ise which have not been either ... Add the value of stone quarries

excised and petroleum, and increase this greatly altered sum by the estimated value of all are the two chapters arranged steam boats, sailing-vessels, barges, as Part II. ; some of chapter &c., plying in American waters,

vii., Part III., dealing with it will be less than the value of the forest product by a sum sufficient to

arboriculture, and the direcpurchase at cost of construction all tions about fencing in chapter the canals, buy up at par all the ii., Part IV. A chief part of stock of the telegraph companies, Dr Nisbet's task has been to pay their bonded debts, and construct and equip all the telephone lines. quote Brown only to demonThe value of the annual forest pro

strate the disastrous effects of duct exceeds the gross income of all his doctrine, for Brown's · Forthe railroad and transportation com- ester' remained for more than panies. It would suffice to pay the half a century as the law and indebtedness of all the States, leaving out New York and Pennsylvania, the prophets to planters, es

and it would more than wipe pecially in the north: the imout the remaining public debt of the press of his doctrines will not United States."

be effaced from British wood. Such facts as these contain lands for generations to come. matter for serious thought on In no respect did Brown lead the part of a great commercial his disciples farther astray community. Among those who, than in the vital matter of for a number of years past, thinning young woods. He have been urging timely pre- laid it down that in pine or caution against coming scarc- fir plantations, for the sake of ity, none has written more shelter and timber, the trees instructively or effectively than should be kept at a distance Dr John Nisbet. It will be of one-third of their height with peculiar satisfaction, from each other. Thus when therefore, that those who may the young wood was 30 feet be termed forestry reformers high, the trees should be 10 receive his latest treatise,

treatise, feet apart. which, although based on the sixth edition of Brown's 'For- Dr Nisbet,

“According to which," observes

“a shade - enduring ester,' which Dr Nisbet himself Douglas fir, spruce, or silver-fir would

1 The Forester, a Practical Treatise on British Forestry and Arboriculture for Landowners, Land-agents, and Foresters. By John Nisbet, D.Ec. 2 vols. Edinburgh & London : William Blackwood & Sons. 1905.

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require a growing space as large as, stilled into him ; he is faithful and often larger than, a light-de- to a training which prohibits the manding larch or pine, which is absurd.

It is impossible for conditions essential to success. timber crops thus treated to yield any

In this matter the present but rough knotty wood of far less mar- writer speaks with contrition, ket value than the long, smooth, having mismanaged his own clean timber grown in close cover on

woodlands for twenty years or the Continent. It is this severe thinning, and not either the soil or thereby, on the principles curthe climate of Britain, which makes rent in his boyhood and imBritish conifer timber smaller and less parted to him through the valuable than the larch, fir, and pine kindly instruction of his pregrown in other countries."

decessor. When Lord Mahon It would be no exaggeration asked the Duke of Wellington to substitute “unsaleable" for whether he had profited by the "less valuable regards experience of his first cammuch of the coniferous timber paign—that dismal one in the of Britain, for this system of Netherlands under the Duke of drastic thinning has been so York,—“Well,” he replied, “I generally followed, resulting in learnt what I ought not to do, coarse knotty stuff, produced and that is always something." by the encouragement of side Happily for his country, Wel. branches, and in soft wood lington learnt this lesson with owing to wide annual rings, the best part of his life still that it is commonly inserted before him. In woodcraft one now, as a condition in building reckons results by the century; contracts, that none but foreign he who goes astray therein timber shall be used. The or- cannot hope to see the misdinary British forester—there chief repaired in his own day. are notable exceptions in the class—understands so little of

“ With all the trees that thou hast

tended the production of marketable

Thy brief concern is wellnigh ended, timber as not to recognise Except the cypress-that may wave some of the elementary terms Its tribute o'er thy narrow grave.” 1 of the craft. Talk to him of

canopy ” that continuous The vice of over-thinning esmantle of foliage which it is tablished itself in England at the first care of the Continental a time when there were forester to establish and pre- plantations in Scotland, and of serve—and he will stare. Yet the ancient forest only a few without canopy, to kill off side scattered fragments remained. branches and to create and pre- By the way, Dr Nisbet is in serve the true forest soil, it is error when he states that “it vain to attempt the growth of was not until the sixteenth decent timber. Not that the century that any sort of forest average forester is to be blamed law was introduced into Scotfor ignorance: the gospel ac- land, and then the system was cording to Brown has been in- based on that obtaining in

no man

1 Horace, Od. II. xiv. 21.

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England” (vol. i. p. 4). So navy, and the practice of profar is this from fact, that in ducing crooked oak has lasted Skene's • Auld Lawes and Con- to our own times, when merstitutions of Scotland,' pub- chants will hardly look at it. lished in 1609, a whole section It may be objected that the is devoted to “The Forest general adoption of a severely Lawes, whereof the author is scientific and economic system alleaged to be King William of forestry would destroy some [1165-1214], in ane auld buke of the fairest landscapes in perteining to S David Lyndesay the United Kingdom, especially of Edzell, Knicht." These laws that park scenery around counare directed, not only to the try houses which is a peculiar preservation of game and reg- feature of our land. It is a ulation of pasture, but to the mistake to attribute any such protection of growing wood. purpose to forestry reformers. Thus, “Gif anie cuts We hold, indeed, that the finest greene wood within the forest, park ornamental timber, such he sall pay ane vnlaw of aucht as the beeches in Ashridge kye (eight cattle],” which was Park, the oaks at Belvoir and a pretty heavy fine. Again, Thoresby, the pines and silver penalties are provided against firs at Dunkeld, can only be any man who in the king's obtained the outcome of forests should “heue dune ane forest treatment; that is, by aik trie without the advise or a change from sylviculture to deliberation of the forestar or arboriculture—from the growth Viridier"; and of one so offend- of a timber crop to the presering a third time “his bodie sal- vation of specimens, singly and be taken and deteined.”

in groves.

It can never be John Evelyn must be held had by dotting trees about in responsible for having, in his the open, nor by following famous Discourse on Forest Brown's instruction that “for Trees' (1664), prescribed ex- park and lawn trees a distance cessive thinning. “I con- from stem to stem about equal ceive,” said he, “that it were to the height of the trees better to plant trees at such should be maintained at all distances as they may least stages of growth.” Manageincommode one another. For ment of this kind ensures a timber trees, I would have defect which mars many a none nearer than forty feet fair demesne: the trees grow where they stand closest, espe- as broad as they are high, cially of the spreading kind”; with a sharp browsing line, which treatment is plainly in- giving them the contour of compatible with the production an umbrella or a toadstool. of clean, straight stems. But, The ideal park tree is one in fact, Englishmen did not which, having been restrained want clean, straight timber in from sprawling when young, Evelyn's day, nor for long has attained nearly its full after. What was most in re- height before it was reliered, quest was crooked oak for the so as to furnish out into a

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