Sunday, January 3, 2010
New issue Central Brittany Journal
New Central Brittany Journal now in the shops.
This month's issue focusses on gardening jobs that can be done in the winter, and especially upon coppicing.
It is seldom mentioned, but completely true, that up until fifty years ago, Bretons produced more fuel than they could possibly know what to do with - and the vast majority of it came from coppicing.
People used wood for heating their houses, for cooking, for firing bread ovens, for bonfires and festivals, and did not have to pay for any of it, because almost the whole of the countryside was covered by a patchwork of tiny field, each of which was surrounded by a bank topped with trees - many of which had been coppiced regularly for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years.
Many of these banks were destroyed in the infamous remembrements of the 1970s, but many have survived. However, even of these, relatively few are being managed properly, and it is more common to see straggling, tangled, multi-trunked trees on top of banks than the beautiful symmetry of coppiced plants.
When these once-coppiced trees occur beside a road, they become a nuisance to passing traffic, and the commune 'solves' this problem by employing contractors to maserate them with the awful circular saw machine, often collecting up the cut branches with giant tractors and bulldozers, and leaving them in huge piles beside the road.
To my mind, this is a typical example of the madness of modern European man - lecturing the rest of the world about what should be done in the Amazon rain forest, etc., whilst still behaving like the world's biggest idiots at home.
Surely it should not be too difficult for us to do something about this and to start managing our coppiced trees properly.