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07 Nov 2019 8:49 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Questions aboout France and Britain" to "Questions about France and Britain"

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Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2019 8:43 p.m. PST

OK, one of these two questions is vaguely, distantly related to toy soldiers. Sort of.

As a boy growing up in the central US, I was told in French class that France was shaped like a hexagon. Um, well, ok, I guess. I mean, I'd always thought of France as France shaped, like Texas is Texas shaped, while Colorado and Wyoming are definitely rectangular. It struck me at the time that, perhaps, this is what little French kids are taught in school. Does anybody know if that's what French kids learn?

Bad Squidddo is planning to bring out some "lumberjills," lasses who harvested timber during WWII while all the lads were off to the war. The story I heard long ago, is that after WWI, the British government decided to plant forests, so fewer ships would have to be devoted to bringing in lumber in the event of a new war. Apparently the chaps in London who planned this out thought in terms of crops, and had no trouble planting the forests in squares and rectangles (Colorado and Wyoming, again). Once the trees matured, people started to realize that the new forests looked terribly unnatural--no straight lines in nature, and all that--and efforts were made to gradually modify the forest edges to make them more natural. Can anyone confirm or deny this story?

For those of you in the Netherlands, Italy, and Australia, I'm sorry I don't have any questions about your countries, and hope you aren't frightfully offended.


nsolomon9907 Nov 2019 10:01 p.m. PST

Grelber, speaking as an Aussie, we're not offended, but I will say that we eagerly await your questions on what shape formation our sharks swim in :)

Volleyfire08 Nov 2019 12:51 a.m. PST

Not all are woods square.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2019 4:07 a.m. PST

I used to, and generations before did, learn about the hexagon. That they still do, no idea. No need to base your French on hexagons though.;)

Dagwood08 Nov 2019 5:41 a.m. PST

It's not so much that the edges of the plantations are rectangular, more that the trees were planted close together in straight lines and were all of the same species, often not native to the UK. Beneath the trees there was little life, almost sterile.
Things have since been improved in many ways, thinning the trees; planting different types, more of them native, particularly around the edges; and allowing spaces to develop. Result – more undergrowth, more wildlife, and a more natural appearance.

Giles the Zog08 Nov 2019 5:49 a.m. PST

WRT BritishBritain.
Yes the Forestry Commission was et ump to provide lumber for British industry, and in particular (coal) pit props and trench props.

The original plantations were as commented previously mono crops often of spruce and larch. (Hence Monty Pythons guide to trees:- No.1 The Larch. The Larch)

They were planted in rows often in square or rectangular plantations.

This is now changing, on my degree course we had a tour and seminar with Forestry Commission staff who explained that they were now breaking up the plantations, especially around the edges and along water courses with native trees to encourage wildlife.

Having done orienteering for many years, the monoculture certainly does result in very sterile wildlife free ecosystems.

These changes have been going on since the 1980's and new planting is much more varied.


Cerdic09 Nov 2019 12:20 a.m. PST

When I was a kid I don't remember ever hearing the French hexagon thing. All we were told was that France was four times the size of Britain and only 20 miles from Dover…

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2019 7:17 p.m. PST

There were some pretty big plantations of pine in the Lake District (right on the edge of Windermere) that are being progressively cleared – first time I encountered the cut region it was like the Somme battlefield – tree stumps everywhere, big ruts where the machines had been etc. it's taken I guess getting on for 15 years to get anywhere near a "natural" landscape again.

For Forestry Commission forests that haven't been so drastically cleared there certainly has been selective planting of deciduous trees (let's not say "native" as a lot (most?) of our native trees are actually imports!) to break up the visual effect of the forest edges. It also helps with wildlife – as a lot of our common species of small mammals and birds prefer to live in the borders between woodland and say open grassland or farmed land.

von Schwartz20 Nov 2019 8:19 p.m. PST

As one who actually has planted forests in northern Minnesota, we varied the shapes and often planted in concentric circles. The reason being to provide browse and shelter to the local deer population. They would wander to the inside circle which was low lying pine and fir trees to eat the new buds and they would be protected from the cold winter winds and predators by the outer rings of taller larger trees.

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