Querus – Oak Tree
As a woodland, the Forest of Dean has played an important part in the heritage of Britain especially from the 17th century when the oak timber, and indeed iron, became important for the expanding shipbuilding industry. The exploitation of the area’s timber and iron ore resources continued throughout the Civil War but in 1649 recommendations were made for the conservation and management of the Forest. This was pursued by a Commission whose long-term work was scuppered by growing demand from the Navy. It was not until the Dean Forest (Reforestation) Act 1668 that effective management commenced, albeit dogged with trouble for another 120 years. During a visit to the Forest in 1802, Lord Nelson highlighted that the ‘finest timber in the kingdom’ was in a deplorable state. Consequently 30 million acorns were planted across 11,000 acres, but the oak was redundant before half grown thanks to its rapid replacement in shipbuilding by iron and steel!
Despite further demands during the war years, the Forest, due to careful planting and felling programme’s, has maintained much of its traditional appearance. In addition, much of the war-time felling was replanted with oak and other broad leaved mixtures. The National Forest policy of 1958 emphasised the need for timber production but highlighted the need for due regard to amenity and recreation.