Forêt de Rouvray

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The once vast Forêt de Rouvray (French pronunciation: ​[fɔʁɛ də ʁuvʁɛ], "Forest of Rouvray", from Gallo-Romance ROBORETU “oak wood″ or more probably French rouvre “sessile oak” and old suffix -ey (ill spelled as -ay, modern -aie), meaning a “collection of the same trees”[1]) was a forest that extended from west of Paris in the Île-de-France region[dubious ] westwards into Normandy, virtually unbroken, threaded by the winding loops of the River Seine, traversed by forest traces and dotted with isolated woodland hamlets, as far as Rouen.[2] A rural relict is the 5 100 ha of the protected Forêt Domaniale de la Londe-Rouvray, at Les Essarts, Normandy, near Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen, on an upland massif above the left bank of the Seine, which makes a wide arc enclosing it. On the right bank, to the west, is what is left of the Forêt de Roumare (the Rouennais), another former royal forest.

According to his early biographers, it was while riding in the forest of Rouvray that William the Conqueror decided to assert his rights to the throne of England.[3]

The old-growth forest that extended to the floodplain of the Seine was incrementally cleared by the monks of a congregation established about 1154[4] at the priory of Grammont, facing the city from the left bank of the Seine. Forest was cleared also at the abbey of Saint-Julien and others. At the end near Paris[dubious ], in 1424 the abbess of Montmartre defended the abbey's traditional right to forest products in the stretch of "forêt de Rouvray" that is now the Bois de Boulogne.[5]

In February 1389, Hector de Chartres was named maître des eaux et des forêts in Normandy and Picardy by Charles VI of France and was charged with verifying and authentifying the old customs of the king's forests users. Along with Jean de Garancières, who was also maître des eaux et forêts at the time, he began in 1402 the general inspection of the king's forests in Normandy. According to a recent publication by Ch. Maneuvrier, D. Gardelle and B. Nardeux, it was Jean de Garancières, and not Hector de Chartres, who visited Rouvray, along with most forest in the region.[6]

However, by the beginning of the sixteenth century, the forest had been decimated: a municipal decree of Rouen, of 24 April 1506, estimated, perhaps with some exaggeration, that if demands were met, within the space of three years the forest of Rouvray would be gone; the pressures came from timber needed for house construction and shipbuilding downstream, and for charcoal. In 1613 a decree from the Conseil du Roi specified that the products of Rouvray and other woods nearby should be limited to the uses of Rouen, but in the seventeenth century, tile-works and pottery kilns[7] set up round the edges of the forest were consuming its timber for fuel. The oaks were replaced by birch; but fern, bracken and broom invaded the depleted soils, and the aristocratic owners[8] were replaced by local bourgeois who saw the woodlands as a resource.

At the time of the reordering of the badly cut-over forest in 1669, it was estimated that the oldest of the trees was about twenty years old, with most growth ranging from eight to fourteen years. Little was done to stem the erosion of the forests; the wars of Louis XIV took their share of timber of any size, and the cold winters of the "Little Ice Age" required firewood for Rouen. By 1750, three of every eight arpents (3 ha*) of "forest" was actually irremediably turned to open wasteland and heath on the impoverished soils. That was the year that Nicolas Roneau, Grand maître des eaux et de forêts began planting open heath with chestnuts and pines— the first planted pine woodlands in Normandy— as a first step towards a managed forest.

The Revolution saw the woodlands informally exploited once more, as a "public good", but the introduction of British coal for industrial purposes in the nineteenth century was what really saved the remaining reserves of woodland. In the twentieth century, the Second World War, the construction of highways, the new phenomena of forest fires[9] and acid rain, which selectively weakened conifers, have also taken their toll. Nevertheless, a third of the territory of the Rouennais (12,150 hectares or 30,000 acres) is wooded, in one of the most densely forested regions of northwest France.[10]

Today the remant termed the forêt de La Londe-Rouvray, "La Londe" reserved for the western section, is protected by a decree of 18 March 1993,[11] supplemented by a decree of 14 September 2006.[12]

A public, informative demonstration Maison des forêts, built by Agglo de Rouen (the agglomération rouennaise)[13] to Haute qualité environnementale (HQE, "High environmental quality") standards, was opened in March 2008.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rouvray, Yonne, has a similar derivation.
  2. ^ General accounts are Léon de Vesly, "Exploration de la forêt de Rouvray," Bulletin archéologique du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques. (1902); Notice archéologique sur les forêts de Rouvray et de La Londe. 1922.
  3. ^ Jérôme Chaïb, L'Homme et les forêts rouennais de la guerre des cent ans à nos jours (Agglomération de Rouen) (pdf file). Historical details in this article are largely drawn from this source.
  4. ^ The order of Grandmont or Grammont was founded in the Limousin, by Etienne de Muret in 1076; the new congregation under a prior received from Henry II Plantagenet, king of England and Duke of Normandy, a part of his hunting chase in the forest of Rouvray, and, added to it, the neighboring meadows in the river floodplain. In 1592 the priory was donated to the Jesuits by their prieur commendataire Jacques Tilleul, to finance the Collège de Rouen. The order was dissolved by Henri IV. The priory's clos now forms the Quartier Grammont of the city.
  5. ^ Édouard de Barthélémy, ed. Recueil des chartes de l'abbaye de Montmartre, pp. 211f.
  6. ^ Maneuvrier, Christophe; David Gardelle; Bruno Nardeux (2009). "Des délivrances au recueil: l'élaboration du coutumier des forêts de Normandie au XVe siècle". Des bois dont on fait la Normandie, actes du 43e congrès de la Fédération des Sociétés historiques et archéologiques de Normandie, Sées (Orne) 15-19 octobre 2008.: 15–34. 
  7. ^ In the late seventeenth century, Rouen became a center of faience manufacture.
  8. ^ The crown sold off sections of its holdings from 1655.
  9. ^ Between 1968 and 1971 about 750 hectares (1,900 acres), about a quarter of the remaining forest, burned and was replanted, in sessile oak (Q. petraea) with an understorey of beech (saplings), on poorer soils, hornbeam and Nordmann Spruce, and on the most degraded soils, red oak and chestnut. according to T. Blais, "Mésures sylvicoles propres à réduire les risques d'incendie dans la zone tempéré", in Tran Van Nao, ed. Forest Fire Prevention and Control (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) 1982:189-90. ISBN 90-247-3050-3
  10. ^ Ville de Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray
  11. ^ Décret du 18 mars 1993 portant classement comme forêt de protection du massif forestier du Rouvray
  12. ^ Décret du 14 septembre 2006 portant classement complémentaire dans la forêt de protection du Rouvray
  13. ^ Aggo Rouennaise
  14. ^ "Une maison ouverte en grand sur la forêt"

Coordinates: 49°19′57″N 0°59′50″E / 49.33250°N 0.99722°E / 49.33250; 0.99722