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Gazeteer of France’s oak woods, Oak

Gazeteer of France’s great oak woods – Loches, atlantic oak wood and a reservoir of acorns

9 July 2019

Published in October 2018, the book The oak in majesty, from forest to wine highlights the concept of forest terroir: a specific soil, aspect, and rainfall, as well as a particular exposure to sunlight, to which should be added the species or variety of tree, the density of plantation, as well as average age, all of which will influence the grain and quality of the wood. The value of a mature high forest will thus depend on both the terroir and in the way in which it has been “led,” as French winegrowers say, or managed, in the words of the forester.

The book, fully illustrated with photographies, compile, through a gazeteer with a lot of details about geography, mesoclimate and history, a list of twenty-six beautiful oak wood forests, as the forest of Loches.

The forest of Loches is the result of the union in 1791 of the forest of the Couronne and that of the Chartreuse of Liget, two contiguous properties that had previously constituted a single massif. Its mature plots of oaks and wide paths laid out for the hunters on horseback confer a solemn and majestic atmosphere on this magnificent woodland. For the most part sessile oak (92%), with some Scots pine, it covers 3,600 hectares (8,900 acres) southeast of Tours. Neat valleys (Cabaret, Orfonds, Pas-aux-Biches…) add to its impressive biodiversity. Three of these are classified as “zones of natural interest in terms of ecology, fauna, and flora” (ZNIEFF) a status less restrictive however than Natura 2000.

It is host to many protected bird species such as the hobby falcon and the honey buzzard, as well as salamanders and newts. Red and roe deer and, unsurprisingly, wild boar abound in this even-aged forest located at an altitude of between 75 and 140 meters (250–460 feet). Several plots have even been earmarked to ensure the acorn harvest and the genetic conservation of the sessile oak. Moreover, 25 hectares (62 acres) are set aside as aging units where the trees are felled when older, at around 300 years old, or even later. According to certain foresters Loches is even more beautiful than the forest of Tronçais because it benefits from more dynamic management.

Find out the entire gazeteer of France’s great oak woods, and much more, in The oak in majesty, from forest to wine written by Sylvain Charlois and Thierry Dussard.

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