The trees will be sourced from France's national parks and private donors.
The long road to Notre Dame de Paris’ restoration is stretching into 2021. It hasn’t been quite two years since the April 2019 fire that devastated the famed Catholic landmark, and a lot has been done. Much of the toxic lead has been cleaned up and the organ was removed to be cleaned.Now, the arduous task of rebuilding the iconic wooden spire is on deck, and in order to do it France will tap its forests.
In 2019 there was some discussion of reconstructing the spire with modern architectural elements. President Macron, however, ultimately decided that it was to be restored to its original state. In order to do this the crew will need very specific materials. The Guardian reports that the project will require up to 1,000 of France’s trees. It went on to explain the specifications:
The trees must be straight, 50-90cm (20-36in) in diameter and between 8 and 14 metres tall. They must be chopped down by the end of March before the sap rises, otherwise the wood will be too humid. Before being cut into beams, the trunks will be allowed to dry for up to 18 months.
A race against time
The time to dry is key, as the team wants to start rebuilding the spire in 2022. This would mean they need the trees to be cut and drying before June. Another hurdle to overcome is the size, as trees of the specified diameter would be between about 150-200 years old. French officials are already searching their national forests, some of which were originally planted by kings for ship building.
National Post reports that these supplies are to be provided in part by private forest owners. One owner, who remained nameless, said that it would be a “matter of pride” to know that his wood helped rebuild Notre Dame. The owner went on to note that the use of the trees would demonstrate the value of his forest.
The selection process is still underway and is expected to be finished before spring is in full swing. Experts expect to procure 2,000 cubic meters of wood from up to 1,500 trees before the project is complete. While a great many trees are to be removed from French forests, plans are being made to replace them. In an interview with the French news outlet Le Parisien, Dominique de Villebonne, the deputy director of the National Forests Office, said:
“At the same time as leaving other trees to stand for a long time, we are also planting new ones so future generations can create their own exceptional works.”