Saturday 20th November 2021
It is not often that one can draw a clear line from the forest to the construction site. When it happens, it demonstrates the importance of trees and the timber industry, not just from an economic or engineering perspective but also from the lens of culture.
Notre-Dame is a building with an annual maintenance budget in the millions. Rebuilding costs are expected to run into hundreds of millions and perhaps billions of dollars. Even with computer-generated 3D modelling and the use of modern building materials, the reconstruction effort could stretch into decades.
SAS BERCE FOREST is a small family company owned by Denis Legeay. He works alongside his son Florent and one employee, Christophe Moreau performing mechanized felling of softwoods and motor-manual harvesting of high-quality hardwoods. SAS BERCE FOREST operates one Tigercat-made TCI* 602 grapple skidder, a second skidder, a harvester head equipped excavator, and a twelve-tonne forwarder.
The French National Forestry Office, which owns the Bercé Forest, is responsible for tree harvesting in France. The office collaborated with carpenters to select the specific trees to be harvested based on length and shape.
“I was involved in the tree harvesting project for the construction of Notre-Dame, with long-standing relations with the French National Forestry Office and also the proximity of the mountain range that makes up the Bercé National Forest,” says Denis. “We participated in the harvesting of the first eight trees as well as loading the logs onto the trucks in a special convoy. Other oaks were harvested from other areas, with local loggers.”
*Registered mark is owned by Tigercat Industries Inc., used under licence.
Harvesting for Wine
Florent Salladin is an equipment salesperson for Clohse Group, the Belgium-based TCI dealer for France. He explains the typical process for harvesting oak trees for the wine barrel industry. “Someone climbs the trees to remove the branches.” This prevents the wood fibre from bursting and thus damaging the trunk when the tree is felled. “This is not so rare in France, especially in this area where you find really precious wood,” says Florent.
“Standing oaks can be sold for more than 1,000 euros per cubic metre. This is really expensive.” The logs are then sawn into strips or staves, using a special technique to maintain air permeability. After many months of air drying, the staves are heated, bent and assembled into barrels.