Montredon-Labessonié, March 2020
Chrystophe, an IT solution architect, silviculturist and sound engineer, has loved forests since his childhood. To make his project come true, he decided to conserve the existing native species and complete the grid with robinias and lime trees, which the bees recently installed in three hives adore, as well as black alders, which help clean up the land along the river banks.
Helped by Mathilde, a forestry advisor from Alliance Forêts Bois, they defined the planting areas by studying soil quality, exposure, topography and humidity. The species are not mixed together: each one thrives in a specific environment and behaves differently from the others. For example, some species grow faster and will therefore compete with others to capture the light. Finally, creating species-specific areas makes long-term monitoring and future maintenance easier.
Since planting began a year and a half ago, in 2019 Chrystophe and Mathilde cleared scrub in the spring and fall, and replanted in the winter. Mathilde explains that during the first two years, the seedlings focus on developing their root systems to obtain sufficient water and nutrients for healthy development. Once well rooted, the tree can then grow upwards.
Almost all the robinias planted on the hillside have suffered from grazing by deer. Fortunately, it is a robust species and has had no trouble recovering. In the event of loss, Mathilde advised Chrystophe to replant cuttings from surviving robinias – a cheaper solution for growing young trees.
On the riverbank near the ruined mill, the black alders have also fall victim to the curiosity of deer, keen discover this tree species they know little about. Luckily Chrystophe took action just in time and replaced the protection fencing around the seedlings. Some alders have grown male flowers in the form of hanging catkins (known as lamb’s tails) and female flowers, which are oval-shaped.
The lime trees on the lower section of the plot have developed well and some of them were already budding at the beginning of March, meaning flowers will soon follow. These flowers will be a treat for the bees from the three hives set up nearby. Last year, Chrystophe harvested 7kg of mixed flower honey from a single hive!
We have also noticed growth of species on the plot that have not been purposely planted. Oak, willow, chestnut and hazelnut trees, elderberry, beech, and honeysuckle, as well as brambles, strawberries and wild daffodils have all appeared! Furthermore, three new buzzards have made themselves at home in an oak tree Chrystophe had conserved.
The project is clearly turning out to be a win-win for Chrystophe, who was keen to enrich the surrounding biodiversity.
The next stages of the project, in the spring and fall of 2020, will focus on formation pruning work and clearing scrub.