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350th anniversary of the Water and Forest decree of Louis XIV

13 August 2019

The Water and Forest decree has been verified by the Parliament 350 years ago (13 August 1669). This decree unified and improved the forestry legislation established in France since the 14th Century.

The Water and Forest decree was written in the continuity of the Council ruling of 15 October 1661 by which Louis XIV began reforming forests. As a matter of fact, Colbert succeeds in convincing Louis XIV of the importance to get royal forests in order. Thanks to this reform, the royal forests income improved from 228.000 livres in 1661 to 1.028.000 livres in 1683.

Simplifying use, fines, jurisdictions and hierarchy, Water and Forest decree established detailed rules for royal forests while submitting other forests to a close control of the king’s officers.

Once preserved for their economic and military value, forests are considered today as exceptional ecosystem that some people would like to sanctuarize. This is to forget that without foresters, French forests would not be what they are today. Managing forests favors their vitality and their renewal and allows to reduce their vulnerability to natural risks (fire, insects…). Managing forests is also the best way to satisfy the need for nature while producing valuable timber.

So, take time during the summer period to cruise the forest paths bearing in mind the work done by Colbert 350 years ago for the preservation and the value of our forest heritage.

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