Barrel of laughs

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Re: Barrel of laughs

Postby robin wood » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:36 am

gavin wrote:It is often said that oak forests were reduced by naval shipbuilding in Britain. Dr Oliver Rackham's History of the English Countryside refers to the prices paid by dockyards for oak at the time of Napoleonic war - which was the peak naval shipbuilding period in wood. As the prices did not increase, it appears that oak forests were NOT reduced by shipbuilding.

Agreed, this often repeated myth is rarely backed up by any basis of fact. It tends to be historian reads 6000 trees needed to build Victory therefore England must have been deforested. We never ask where those trees came from, what sort of acreage 6000 oaks covers how many acres of woodland there is in England how many mature trees could come from that woodland a year and be sustainable etc. Deforestation does not occur when woodlands are valued for their produce it occurs when they are not and when farmland is more valuable. Cutting trees does not destroy woodland grazing animals do. The area of woodland cover in the UK is very well recorded and it does not reduce significantly in the 18th C. The bulk of our deforestation (conversion to farmland) was done before the Romans arrived. See Rackham's Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape.

Interestingly when I was working with shipwrights in Norway a couple of weeks ago they were claiming Victory oak was sourced from Norway. I have not seen any dendro evidence on the source of the oak but we were certainly importing large quantities of timber from the Baltic by the 18th C.

This comment on the building of large ships like Victory from Wiki is interesting
"This was an unusual occurrence at the time as the Royal Navy preferred smaller and more maneuverable ships, and it was unusual for more than two to be in commission simultaneously; during the whole of the 18th century only ten were constructed."
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