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ENGLISH ESTATE FORESTRY







OAK IN AN ENGLISH PARK



LONDOTT' EDWARD AKNOLIM9O4 .



ENGLISH ESTATE
FORESTRY



BY



ArC. FORBES, F.H.A.S.
n

LECTURER ON FORESTRY, DURHAM COLLEGE OF SCIENCE

NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE

LATE FORESTER ON THE MARQUIS OF BATH'S
LONGLEAT ESTATE, ETC. ETC.



LONDON

EDWARD ARNOLD

41 AND 43 MADDOX STREET, BOND STREET, W.
1904

All Rights Reserved



ENVIRON.
DESIGN



PBEFACE



THIS book contains the opinions and impressions of a
practical forester on a few of the more important subjects
connected with English Estate Forestry. In its pages an
attempt has been made to place the position of Estate
Forestry clearly before the reader, and to indicate a few
directions in which improvements are possible. The Author
feels, probably in common with many practical foresters,
that English Forestry is sufficiently distinct from Continental,
or even Scotch Forestry to entitle it to be regarded as a
separate subject, and that the non-recognition of this fact
has led to a great deal of misconception in the minds of
many, who are more or less anxious to see English Forestry
raised to a higher level.

This book is intended to be suggestive rather than
instructive to the practical forester. There is little in its
pages but what he already knows, and possibly a great deal
with which he will not agree. But as a more or less faithful
record of individual experience it is offered as a small con-
tribution to forestry literature, which, if it does not enrich,
it will not, it is hoped, disgrace.

To the woodland proprietor it may also prove more
suggestive than instructive. He will, at any rate, find its
few recommendations in accord with his own interests, and
that both Sport and Landscape Effect have been dealt with
sympathetically. That both these matters can be considered
in practical forestry without prejudicially affecting economic



vi PREFACE

sylviculture to some extent is scarcely to be expected ; but
with a little sacrifice on the side of each, and a fair amount
of common-sense practice, they can succeed side by side
without great difficulty.

In conclusion, it may be pointed out that this book is
not, nor does it make a pretence of being, a text-book. The
intelligent reader, therefore, who discovers that it does not
contain a Planter's Guide, nor a reference to more than one
work on German Forestry, is requested not to despise it on
that account, nor to conclude prematurely that the Author
has written on a subject he knows nothing about.

A. C. FORBES.

September 1904.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER I

ENGLISH FORESTS AND ORIGIN OF FORESTRY

Probable Extent and Condition of English Forests in Prehistoric Times
Influence of the Roman Occupation on Natural Woodland The
Forest Laws of the Normans Causes of Gradual Reduction of the
Natural Forest Area Effect of the Charta Foresta Rise of Economic
Forestry in England owing to the Gradual Exhaustion of the Natural
Supply Early Attempts at Forest Conservation in the Fourteenth,
Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Centuries Effect of the Reformation on
Monastic Woodlands Destruction of Timber during the Civil War
John Evelyn and his Efforts in the cause of Forest Planting Scarcity
of Naval Timber during the Eighteenth Century Influence of Estate
Development on Forestry during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth
Centuries Landscape Gardening and its Effect on English Forestry
The Evolution of the Modern Plantation



CHAPTER II

PRESENT CONDITION OF ENGLISH FORESTRY

Area of English Woodlands Position of Estate Woodlands in Rural
Estate Economy Sylviculture in English Forestry, and the Effects
upon it of Arboriculture and Landscape Gardening General Condition
of English Plantations Sylvicultural Systems Financial Results of
English Forestry Game and English Forestry . . .19



CHAPTER III

PROSPECTS AND POSSIBILITIES OF ENGLISH FORESTRY

Possible Extension of the Woodland Area Waste Land and Soils adapted
for Planting Financial Results Possible or Probable Improvement
of existing Woodlands Desirability of State Aid for the Woodland
Proprietor The Finance Act of 1894 . . . . .39



viii CONTENTS



CHAPTER IV

PROFITABLE ENGLISH TIMBER TREES, AND THEIR
SYLVICULTURAL TREATMENT

Definition of a Profitable Timber Tree Introduction of Exotic Species
Characteristics of, and Soils, Situations, and Sylvicultural Treatment
adapted for Oak, Ash, Beech, Spanish Chestnut, Birch, Poplar,
Alder, etc. Larch, Scots Fir, Spruce, Douglas Fir, Weymouth Pine,
Menzies Spruce, Silver Fir, etc. . . . . .54



CHAPTER V

PLANTING AND NATURAL REGENERATION

Soil Preparation Fencing against Game Methods of Planting on Hill-
sides, Rough Ground, Pasture, or Arable Size and Condition of
Plants used Natural Regeneration and its General Principles
Natural Regeneration of Oak, Ash, Beech, Scots Fir, etc. . .111

CHAPTER VI

THINNING AND PRUNING

Evolution of the Practice in English Forestry Principles of Correct
Thinning Thinning Pure Plantations Thinning Mixed "Woods
Influence of Objects in View upon the Practice of Thinning Pruning
in Ordinary Plantations . . . . . .124

CHAPTER VII

SELLING, VALUING, AND MEASURING TIMBER

Markets for Home Timber Sales by Auction, Tender, and Private Treaty

Valuing Felled and Standing Timber Measuring Standing Timber 148

CHAPTER VIII

THE HOME NURSERY

Its comparative Advantages Financial Aspect of growing Home Nursery
Stock Soil and Situation Proportion of Nursery Ground to Wood-
land Form of Home Nursery Management . . . .167

CHAPTER IX

WOODLAND WORK AND WORKING PLANS

Timber Felling Bark Stripping Hurdle Making Charcoal Burning-
Working Plans Functions of Working Plans Considerations by
which they are affected Example ..... 180



CONTENTS ix

PAGE

CHAPTER X

LANDSCAPE FORESTRY AND WOODLAND SCENERY

Landscape Effect of Woods in general Size and Outline of Woods in
Hilly and Flat Districts Margins of Woods Effect of Light- and
Heavy-Foliaged Trees, etc. Types of Woodland Scenery Use and
Abuse of "Ornamental" Species Woodland Rides, Glades, etc.
Ornamental Woods ....... 203

CHAPTER XI

PARK TIMBER AND AVENUES

Origin of Parks Clumps Belts Groves Picturesque Park Trees
Avenues, their Use and Origin Styles of Avenues, their Length,
Width, and Composition Planting Avenues . . . 248

CHAPTER XII

ENEMIES OF ENGLISH WOODLANDS

Rabbits, Squirrels, etc. Insects: Oak-Leaf Roller Moth, Winter Moth,
Larch Aphis, Pine Beetle, Pine Weevil, Cockchafer, Garden Chafer
Fungi : Larch Disease, Heart-Rot, Beech and Ash Canker, Trametes
radiciperda, Honey Fungus Wind Frosts, etc. . . . 270



CHAPTER XIII

THE ENGLISH FORESTER

Evolution of the Estate Forester His Present Position and Education . 314
INDEX . 329



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



OAK IN AN ENGLISH PARK

ALDER MOOR .....

AVENUE IN SEVENTEENTH CENTURY GROVE
YOUNG SPRUCE WOOD ....

COPPICE WITH STANDARDS

YOUNG BEECH ON THE CHILTERNS

MATURE BEECH WOOD ....

ABELE POPLARS IN AN ENGLISH PARK .
SCOTS FIR ......

ASH ......

EFFECT OF OVER-THINNING ON BEECH .
CORRECT THINNING ....

TIMBER CUTTING .....

UNDER- WOOD CUTTING ....

MARGIN OF WOOD WITH TREES STANDING FORWARD

MARGIN OF WOOD BROKEN UP BY THINNING .

STRAIGHT RIDE THROUGH BEECH WOOD

DRIVE THROUGH MIXED WOOD .

MIXED GROUP .....

GROUP OF ASH AND THORN

PARK GROVES .....

WIDE-PLANTED AVENUE ....

CLOSE-PLANTED AVENUE .



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ENGLISH ESTATE FORESTRY

CHAPTER I

ENGLISH FORESTRY IX THE PAST

THE exact period of time which has elapsed since the last
Glacial Period has been variously estimated by different
geologists, but is generally assumed to be something between
fifty thousand and a hundred thousand years. During that
period there is no evidence that the indigenous forest flora
of England has altered to any material extent, although
the distribution of certain species may have been affected by
physical changes and human agencies. The plant remains
found in peat bogs and buried forests afford conclusive evi-
dence of the species of trees and shrubs which flourished
when the boundaries of Great Britain extended farther than
they do at present. Submerged forests exist at intervals
along the entire coast-line from the Shetland Islands to
Land's End, and the trees and shrubs they contain are in a
perfect state of preservation. The Cromer Forest Bed, one
of the best preserved of our submerged forests, contains the
remains of forest trees and shrubs which are still indigenous,
and none that are not, unless it be the spruce. In the Fens
the Arctic birch is the only tree, in Post-Glacial deposits,
not indigenous, and in Sussex and Hampshire a few of these
deposits contain a species of maple not now found nearer
than France ; but these may simply be considered as
exceptions which prove the rule, and it may safely be
asserted that the indigenous forest flora is older than the
earliest trace of Neolithic man. What species existed when



2 ENGLISH ESTATE FORESTRY

the British Isles were united to the Continent, or when the
lion, tiger, elephant, and hyaena lived in its jungles, it is
hardly worth while speculating upon ; but everything points
to the fact that we still possess all those types of forest trees
which have existed within these islands during the last hun-
dred thousand years. What changes have taken place in
comparatively recent times have been in the direction of
augmenting the number of species which can thrive in the
British climate by artificial assistance or protection ; and if
our woodlands were once again left to their own resources,
there is every probability that a large number of introductions
would hold their own with the original occupant.

Trees and shrubs generally considered to be indigenous
to England are the following : Oak, ash, beech, wych elm,
Scots pine, yew, alder, willow, poplar, maple, hornbeam,
whitebeam, mountain ash, birch, bird cherry, gean, dog-
wood, privet, holly, hazel, black and white thorn, service
tree, elder, juniper, gorse, broom, buckthorn, spindle tree,
etc. These species may be found in most of the remains of
our natural forests to-day, and are more or less widely
distributed in hedges and copses.

The distribution of these species in the shape of forest was
practically universal, so far as the soil and situation would
allow. If it were possible to go far enough back, we should
probably find that Caesar's assertion two thousand years ago
that Britain was " one horrid forest " was practically true at
one time, although it is doubtful if that was the case in his
day. In The Making of England Mr. J. E,. Green gives us
the following picture of the natural woodlands previous to or
in the time of the Eomans. He states that " neither moor nor
fen covered so vast a tract of Britain as its woods. The
wedge of forest and scrub which filled the hollow between the
North and South Downs, stretched in an unbroken mass for
120 miles from Hampshire to the Valley of the Medway ;
but huge as it was, this Andreds Weald was hardly greater
than other of the woodlands which covered Great Britain. A
line of thickets along the shore of the Southampton Water
linked it with as large a forest tract to the west, a fragment
of which survives in our New Forest, but which then bent
away through the present Dorsetshire, and spread northward



ENGLISH FORESTRY IN THE PAST 3

through the western edge of the Wiltshire Downs to the
Valley of the Frome. The line of the Severn was blocked
above Worcester by the Forest of Wyre, which extended
northward to Cheshire, while the Avon skirted the border of
a mighty woodland, of which Shakespeare's Arden became
the dwindled representative, and which all but covered the
area of the present Warwickshire. Away to the east the
rises of Highgate and Hampstead formed the southern edge
of a forest tract that stretched without a break to the Wash,
and thus almost touched the belt of woodland which ran
athwart Mid Britain in the forests of Eockingham and
Charnwood, and in the Brunewald of the Lincoln Heights.
The northern part of the province was yet wilder and more
inaccessible than part of the south, while Sherwood and
ISTeedwood filled the space between the Peak and the Trent.
The Vale of York was pressed between the moorlands of
Pickering and the waste or desert which stretched from the
Peak of Derbyshire to the Eoman Wall, and beyond the Wall
to the Forth the country was little more than a vast
wilderness of moorland and woodland, which later times knew
as the Forest of Selkirk."

In fact, the whole of England in prehistoric times might
have been divided into three classes 1st, open down or heath ;
2nd, woodland or forest ; and 3rd, marsh or swamp. The
downs were represented then, as they are to-day, by the chalk
ranges of Kent, Hants, Wilts, and Herts, and the oolitic
hills of the Cotswolds. The heaths were found on the sand-
covered chalk of the Lincolnshire Wolds, the drift of
Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk, and the poorer soils of the
Tertiary and recent formations. But it must not be taken
too much for granted that either of these comparatively open
tracts of country were originally treeless. While the nature
of the soil prohibited the growth of large timber, and
facilitated early attempts at clearing, it probably maintained
a great deal of scrub which deserved the title of " forest " as
much as the more fertile land. We have patches of natural
woodland on our chalk downs to-day which have every appear-
ance of being the remains of primeval forest, and it is
impossible to say what denuding effect the grazing of countless
generations of sheep upon them has had. The heath-covered



4 ENGLISH ESTATE FORESTRY

ground, again, may have had its growth of birch, and
possibly Scots fir, although the latter tree appears to have
become extinct in the southern counties until reintroduced
within recent times.

The marsh or swamp land was mostly represented in the
eastern counties, Somersetshire, etc., and the mouths of
rivers generally. Here, too, alders, willows, etc., invested it
with a certain degree of forest character, and a great deal has
only been reclaimed within recent times. The remaining
class of land, woodland, occupied, as we have seen, fully half
or more of the country, the remains of which exist down to
the present day.

The condition of these primeval forests was probably
much the same in Britain in prehistoric times, as may
be found in thinly inhabited forest districts in other parts of
the world. Composed of the indigenous species already
enumerated, their existence depended entirely upon natural
regeneration, such as may be seen to-day whenever a piece of
waste land exists within a short distance of surrounding trees
or woods. Their natural enemies, in addition to man himself,
would principally be deer, wild cattle, hares, etc., and constant
warfare between the animal and vegetable world would be
carried on. The character of the soil would decide whether
the forest growth would consist of tall or large oak or ash,
with holly or yew beneath, stunted and crooked scrub of
the same species, or birch, alder, willow, and other moisture-
loving trees. In sheltered valleys with good deep soil and
natural drainage, numerous oaks and other timber trees
would attain large dimensions, and, where favourably situated,
a great height, but there would be little of that regularity
characteristic of planted or artificially managed woods.
Wherever a favourable seed-bed existed, or a gap occurred in
the leaf canopy by the fall of an old tree, a dense crop
of seedlings would make its appearance from time to time.
If not interfered with by deer or ground game, or shaded
by overhanging branches, these patches would develop into
clumps, in which the struggle for existence or self-thinning
would constantly be going on. The final result would be a
few tall clean trees in the centre, and the edges of the clump
composed of stunted and leaning trees pushed outward in



ENGLISH FORESTRY IN THE PAST 5

the struggle for light, heavily branched on one side, and
destitute of leading shoots. With the presence of game or
other animals, various contingencies would arise to interfere
with the normal development of the group. Browsing,
beheading, and barking may convert the promising sapling
into a gnarled and stunted bush, a many-forked stem, or a
bush-headed tree. Seedlings springing up amidst a patch of
thorns, hollies, or brambles, would have a better chance of
escaping injury than those on bare or grassy ground, and the
single tree or small group, with the protecting bush at its
base, would be the result. Every form and size of tree,
every conceivable combination of stem and bush, would
be represented in one place or another, separated by grassy
glades or patches of weeds, bracken, or other growth
characteristic of forest soil.

It is impossible to estimate the influence of prehistoric
man on the forests of Britain. The Druids are usually
associated with our earliest ideas of the ancient Briton and
his religion, and it is recorded that Malmud, supposed to be
the founder of Malmesbury, about 400 B.C. formed a code of
laws in which forest preservation was referred to. This
reference states that it was within the right of every man to
cut firewood from a dead tree, thus implying that living
trees were protected even at that time.

There can be little doubt but that the earliest tribes did
something towards the subjection or destruction of the native
forests. The gigantic temples of Stonehenge and Avebury in
Wiltshire, with the barrows and tumuli scattered about over
the open downs which exist in other parts of the country,
suggest that the earliest settlements were on the more open
and thinly wooded tracts of country. These remains point
to a population of considerable size, and, although it chiefly
confined itself to the open country already referred to, it
depended a great deal for its food and clothing upon the
surrounding forest. Fuel and timber would be necessary
at all times, and although it is improbable that prehistoric
man was the means of reducing the natural forest area of
the country to any appreciable extent, it is not unreasonable
to infer that he was the means of thinning out and keeping
in check forest growth at a very early period. Gradually,



6 ENGLISH ESTATE FORESTRY

and in proportion to the increase of the population, the drier
and most suitable forest districts would be occupied, and their
crop of indigenous timber thinned from various causes ; but
that wholesale destruction of forest by fire, such as went on
in America even before the advent of the white man, would
be out of the question, for deciduous forest growth in this
country does not readily burn or easily ignite. It would be
upon the forest, again, that the early Briton depended for his
wealth in the shape of cattle and hogs, and his sport in the
shape of deer and other animals ; and it is reasonably safe
to conclude, that while the downs upon which his remains
are so abundant were comparatively treeless, yet forest land
surrounded and was scattered amongst them wherever the
soil was of a suitable nature.

The first important attack made on the dense forest of
the country was probably during the Eoman occupation.
Numerous evidences exist to point to the fact that one
branch of engineering with which the invaders employed
themselves, was the destruction of a portion of these forests.
The draining of Hatfield Chase in the reign of Charles I.
brought to light large numbers of buried trees, which had in
many cases been burned or felled, and amongst them were
found many Eoman remains. They are said to have set
fire to an extensive pine forest near Doncaster, into which
the Britons retreated after their defeat at Osterfield, and the
fallen and charred trees have been discovered beneath the
surface. This work was probably carried out, partly for
agricultural, and partly for strategic and political reasons.
The forests were the natural strongholds of the savage
tribes with whom the invaders had to contend, and they
naturally endeavoured to reduce the area of the former as
far as lay in their power.

The earliest occupation of the forest on a large scale
appears to have taken place during the Saxon Period.
Kemble, in his well-known work, The Saxons in England,
fully describes the conditions under which these people
existed. He supposes that every settlement or community
was surrounded by a tract of forest or waste, and which
separated the possessions of one tribe from those of another.
This waste belonged to the community, and no individual had



ENGLISH FORESTRY IN THE PAST 7

a right to appropriate or alter its character without the
consent of the former. The boundaries of each tract of
waste, or " mark " as it was called in those days, were
clearly defined, and the usual boundary marks appear to
have been trees which were specifically mentioned in the
Anglo-Saxon charters, such as the oak, ash, beech, thorn,
elder, lime, and birch. It was expressly forbidden to cut or
destroy these trees, many of which are said to have been
of peculiar size or beauty, and carved with the figures of
birds and beasts. As time went on, these village communities
were increased in number and the originals in size, until
they assumed the proportion of towns, and gradually led to
the appropriation of larger tracts of waste or forest for
purposes of cultivation or building. Still the Saxons appear
to have paid great attention to the preservation of the main
characters of the forests, and even in their time no great
process of clearing went on, so far as we know. They paid
special attention to the preservation of the oak on account
of its value for providing food for swine and deer, and they
probably laid the foundations of those forest laws which
assumed such importance in later times.

Although Canute is generally credited with having drawn
up the first comprehensive code of forest laws, it was not
until the arrival of the Normans that these laws assumed
that objectionable character which we know to have been
the case during that period. The highest existing authority
on these laws is Manwood, who gives us a very clear idea
of their far-reaching and comprehensive nature. According
to him, the king could seize upon any tract of country by
issuing a Commission under the Great Seal, instructing certain
persons to make a forest in such a place as he might choose
and lay out the boundaries. This forest had to be stocked
with deer in order to bring it within the provisions of the
forest laws, and it was in the maintenance and preservation
of these animals that the greatest injustice and tyranny
appears to have been exercised upon the inhabitants in and
around the royal forests. Freeholders were entitled to
occupy and retain their lands after, as before, the formation
of the forest, but they were prohibited from erecting fences
high enough to keep out the deer from feeding upon their



8 ENGLISH ESTATE FORESTRY

crops. They could not cut down woods upon their freeholds
without the consent of the king's forester, and the latter had
the right of cutting the boughs of ash and other trees upon
freehold lands within the forest, to serve as food for deer
when required. The penalty for killing deer in a royal
forest was death, while the cutting down of an oak carried
with it a fine of 20s. In return for the conditions im-
posed upon them, the freeholders had rights of pasturage
and fuel in the forest, although certain animals, such
as sheep, swine, goats, etc., were not allowed, and certain
seasons of the year were regarded as closed periods with
respect to all animals. Those having parks within the
forest had to prevent the deer from entering them, or they
were considered as belonging to the forest when this
occurred.

The severity of these laws is said to have been one of
the causes which brought about the passing of the Magna
Charta, with which was associated the Charta Foresta. This
latter did away with a great many restrictions which had
so far been imposed upon the freeholders of the forest,
and threw out a great deal of land which had hitherto been
regarded as within the boundaries of the forests. In the
year 1300 a survey was made of all royal forests, and the
land which had been appropriated and added to existing
forests at an earlier period again restored to its owners.
These surveys were known as Perambulations, and copies
of them are still preserved in the Forest Eoll.

About this period the greatest clearance of woodland



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