Planting project to replace diseased chestnut trees in Montmorency Forest kicks off

Natural growth of sessile oak growing on plot 22 ©A Tree for You

Montmorency Forest, France, June 2021

Affected by chestnut ink disease, this forest in the north of Ile-de-France (Paris region) is rapidly dying out. Here in Montmorency, 70% of the forest is covered by this species. The forest was classified as suffering from a health crisis in 2018.

It is in this context that the RED by SFR brand has decided to get involved alongside the French National Forest Office (Office National des Forêts, ONF) and A Tree for You. Through its #REDsponsable programme, the operator is offering its customers the opportunity to participate in planting healthy trees in damaged Montmorency forest. Since March 9, for each donation by its customers, RED by SFR will match it with the same amount.

This winter, 2,980 trees will be planted, 70% of which will be sessile oaks, 20% will be wild cherry trees and 10% will be cormiers, replacing the chestnut trees affected by the ink disease.

Ink disease has been in the soil for centuries and is caused by two fungiPhytophthora cambivora and Phytophthora cinnamomic – that are spread by water in the soil and cause necrosis of the chestnut tree roots. The leaves of the chestnut tree wilt and dry out, causing the branches to gradually die from top to bottom. Black spots then appear on the trunk and roots. Susceptible trees die quickly (one to five years) in the case of a serious attack.

This disease has developed in Ile-de-France over recent years due to climate change, leading to a lack of frosts in winter plus wet springs that have waterlogged the soil, thus providing ideal conditions for multiplication and movement of the ink in the soil.

This disease now affects all chestnut groves in north-western France and no treatment exists to eradicate it.

Chestnut tree affected by ink disease in Montmorency forest ©A Tree for You
The ink disease © A Tree for You

To limit its spread, and ensure Montmorency Forest remains safe for walkers, technicians from the French National Forest Office (Office National des Forêts, ONF) carry out sanitation cutting among the diseased chestnut trees, replacing them with species more resilient to climate change.

On the plots of the project dedicated to RED by SFR the chestnut trees, which often represent 100% of the species present, affected by ink disease, have been cut down and soil preparation work will soon begin. The planting campaign on plots 22 and 23 will take place this winter 2021/2022.

Plot 22 to be replanted this winter 2021/2022 ©A Tree for You
Common Brunella growing on the plot to be reforested ©A Tree for You
Ladybird on natural chestnut regrowth ©A Tree for You

The ONF and its technicians in the field are working daily to slow down health crises in French forests and protect public forests. Work groups are also exploring the species best suited for replanting in light of climate change. This is a long-term project whoseresults will only be visible in several years to come

To give you an idea, the A Tree for You team went to visit a plot planted over thirty years ago, where a first thinning opreation was carried out in 2018.

Vegetation and natural growth of other tree species are increasing in the cleared undergrowth.

Bringing hope to French forests!

Plot planted more than 30 years ago and its undergrowth, where natural hornbeam is growing in undergrowth of eagle fern and brambles ©A Tree for You
Plot planted over 30 years ago and its undergrowth ©A Tree for You

Next steps in the project: soil preparation and planting campaigns over the winter of 2021/2022.

Want to know more about the #REDsponsable programme? Discover the RED by SFR brand commitments at red-by-sfr.fr

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