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Call of the forest

11 July 2024

He’s a forest man. The Bertranges forest, where he grew up and still lives today. Maxime Bollotte, 17, a student at the forestry high school in Crogny (Aube), has just returned from a week’s trip to Romania, where he took part in the European forestry race team championships.

 

Last September, Maxime was at Charlois for a two-week internship during which he was able to put into practice the theory he had learned at school, in contact with seasoned and passionate professionals. Maxime was born on the edge of the Bertranges, in Sichamps. He knows the forest like the back of his hand. Even if he still has a lot to learn, he knows the trees, the birds, the game by heart… Currently in his final year of Forest Management at the Lycée Forestier in Crogny, Maxime entered the forestry sector with the firm intention of making a career of it. His parents work for the ONF (French forestry agency).

 

France and Europe

Why settle for the minimum when you can do a little more? Before setting out to conquer Europe, it was necessary to conquer France and take part in the “Coupe de bois sportive” events. “The French championship takes place throughout the year, like a continual assessment. Participation is voluntary,” explains Maxime. There are five events: precision felling, fast chain change, combined cutting, precision cutting and delimbing. This requires a lot of training beforehand, and a great deal of concentration during the competition. Pugnacious, the young Nivernais climbed to the second step of the podium and validated his ticket for Europe and the forestry racing championships organized in Câmpulung Moldovenesc, in the Bucovina region of northern Romania, this time in a team of 4.

 

The Carpathian kingdom

Europe’s top forestry racers gathered in Romania for the European Championships. “Germany and Austria are almost untouchable. They have many more hours of training than us, it’s part of their high school timetable”. However, the young Frenchmen are not giving up, and in fact came very close to finishing on the podium. “An error of assessment in the dating of a tree cost us the podium, but we’re satisfied all the same. It’s a high-level competition, and the slightest mistake is paid for in cash!” Sixteen events were on the program for these European championships. Recognition of flora and fauna (in Latin, please), being able to determine a tree’s age, its standing volume, its height, estimating the average diameter of a colony of trees on a plot, estimating a volume per hectare… all with only a one-meter stick, a 4 cm square metal plate, a pencil, and a sheet of paper. “In the forest, you have to know how to get by, there are tricks up your sleeve”.

A forest marathon, including a first-aid test and a challenge to the candidates’ adventurous skills, sealed the championship, which was won by Austria, ahead of Germany and Romania. Team France, with logistical support from Charlois, took seventh place. 22 teams representing 18 countries took part.

 

 

Stéphane Ebel

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