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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

To plant an intermixture of acorns and oak trees


With

a prospective reference to the plantations shortly to be made, the most laudable pains were taken by Lord Glenbervie to ascertain the best mode of planting and raising the young trees. He truly remarks that "the space of nearly 100 years must elapse before the success or failure of any plan adopted in the cultivation and management of oak timber for the navy can be clearly ascertained, during the whole of which time a persevering attention and uniformity of system in the execution of the plan adopted would be equally requisite, in fact through a succession perhaps of three or four generations." His Lordship made extensive inquiries whether acorns or plants should be first used, or rather some of each; what was the best age and size for transplanting; if plants or trees of any other kind should be set with them, or in places where oaks would not thrive; at what distance apart should they be planted; ought the soil to be cleared or dug, or how prepared; are the old trees to be removed, and the stumps of oak or beech suffered to remain?

On the 23rd of July, 1808, the general principle agreed upon in these respects was, "to plant an intermixture of acorns and oak-trees, with a very small proportion of Spanish chesnuts; so that, if either the acorns or young oaks should succeed, a sufficient crop might be expected, and to plant no trees of any other sorts, except in spots where it should be thought that oaks would not grow, and which it might be

necessary to include, in order to avoid the expense of fencing, or for shelter in high and exposed situations." The first enclosures were planted agreeably to this method, only afterwards it was found necessary to set young oaks instead of acorns, few of these only coming up.

Lord Glenbervie also interested himself in some experiments for testing the transplanting of young trees of various ages, selecting Acorn Patch in the centre of the Forest for the purpose. The annexed table, carried on to 1846, gives the result:--

A. transplanted at 16 years of age } B. transplanted at 23 years of age } girth at 6 ft. from the ground. C. not transplanted at all }

A. B. C. Sep. 14, 1809 7.625 Inches. 7 Inches. 11.75 Inches. Oct. 5, 1814 14.75 ,, 11 ,, 15.625 ,, Oct. 20, 1820 23.825 ,, 19 ,, 19.825 ,, ,, 1826 32.125 ,, 27.75 ,, 23 ,, ,, 1830 40.5 ,, 35.75 ,, 26.5 ,, ,, 1836 48.75 ,, 39.5 ,, 30 ,, ,, 1840 53.25 ,, 42.5 ,, 32.5 ,, ,, 1846 60.5 ,, 47.75 ,, 36.5 ,,

More as a satisfaction to the Government before making the new plantations, than as a guide to the commissioners, most of whom knew the Forest intimately, Messrs. Driver were now directed to examine the condition and situation of the woods and woodlands, and to report thereon. They began by numbering the timber trees in succession, and had reached 1,000, when the proceedings were put a stop to, on account of the consumption of time and money which such an elaborate plan was found to involve, and they briefly reported that the Forest seemed to contain 22,882 loads of oak timber, that only one third of the existing enclosures were fully stocked, and that encroachments were rapidly spreading.


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