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Culture

2 – The Forest in Nivernais – The notch

15 February 2018

The second postcard of the series « The Forest in Nivernais » shows a woodcutter practicing a directional cut on a tree in the Bertranges forest. This action, consisting of making a kind of pivot hinge, allows the woodcutter to guide the tree in its fall.

The second postcard of the series « The Forest in Nivernais » shows a woodcutter practicing a directional cut on a tree in the Bertranges forest. This action, consisting of making a kind of pivot hinge, allows the woodcutter to guide the tree in its fall. The diameter of the trees suggests that the woodcutter evolves in a high forest at the « perchis » stage (diameter at 1.30 m between 10 and 20 cm) or « high perchis » stage (diameter at 1.30 m between 20 and 30 cm).

When Achille Millien and Raoul Saulnier d’Anchald work together to carry out their project to collect the practices and activities of forest workers, the forest sector is essential for the Nièvre region, since in 1886 it directly supports more than 4% of the population of the department (employers, farm heads, employees, clerks, day laborers and their respective families). A few years later, in 1904, the Nivernais woodcutters unions have 9,000 members, or nearly 3% of the total population. Between October and April, the woodcutters are also joined by many laborers, working in farms during summer.

However, from an economic point of view, firewood has prevailed over softwood lumber and coppices over high forests since the severe clear-cutting done in the 17th century for metallurgy. In 1908, Imbert de la tour thus calculates that the Nivernais woods only bring 19 francs per hectare on average, against 48 francs in the Vosges and 39 francs in the Landes.

Achille Millien embellished the postcard « Winter VI – Felling of a tree – The Notch » with a quatrain tinged with romance : « Il n’abritera plus les nids dans la ramée / De son tronc jeune et déjà fort : / Sous l’effort de l’homme pygmée / L’arbre entaillé va tomber mort ! » While the worms of postcard : « Winter VII – Felling of a tree – The Fall » resonate with strength and crash : « La vie et la mort. – Eternel combat ! / Un siècle fait l’arbre, une heure l’abat. »

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