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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/194

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places for royal enjoyment in its pursuit, but have encouraged their cultivation for the production of fuel and timber, as well as for their value in other respects. It will indicate the careful attention given to the forests in Germany, when we find it officially reported that the net returns of the forests are from two to twelve thalers per hectare (two and a half acres), and the value of the land together with its crop is estimated at fifty-two and a half thalers per hectare.

England, now having a smaller percentage of forest than any country of Europe, with the exception of Spain and Portugal, was well wooded at the remotest historical period; but as early as the thirteenth century, in the time of Henry III, she found it necessary to import pine lumber, and apprehension began to be felt of the failure of the forests.

Hardly anything has been done in England compared with what has been done in Germany, France, and other Continental countries, to establish and protect the forests. Individuals have done something, as for instance the Duke of Athol, who, in the early part of the present century, planted several thousand acres of the barren hillsides of Scotland with the larch. His successors in the dukedom have followed his worthy example and extended the woodland area, and demonstrated that the work of forestry, rightly prosecuted, is pecuniarily profitable as well as desirable in other respects. It is only within the last few years that the English Government has shown any considerable interest in this subject. Some action has been taken for the purpose of protecting the forests in her colonies from destruction, and quite recently a few thousand acres in England itself have been planted with oaks for the purpose of meeting the future demands of the navy.

The subject of the preservation of the woods is one of the highest practical importance. Man has often acted very unwisely in the exercise of his lordship of the forest, and has suffered greatly, and continues to suffer, in consequence. Great districts once populous, and powerful as populous, have been almost converted into deserts, some of them quite into deserts, and their people diminished in numbers and in power, as the result of a wanton destruction of their forests. France and other European countries have been swept by disastrous floods, or rent by torrents rushing down their mountain-slopes, and carrying masses of rock and gravel into the valleys and plains below, because the forests which would have held the floods in check have been recklessly consumed; and now forest schools are established, and all the power and wealth of governments are put forth for the purpose of staying these evil effects, if possible, by replanting the mountain-sides with trees, and thus restoring the protection which Nature had originally provided. Climates have been changed for the worse, the agricultural productiveness of countries has been lessened, provinces have been depopulated, the health and happiness of nations have been diminished, by the destruction of the forests; and now sci-