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Experts have warned that Notre Dame cathedral can’t be rebuilt like it was before the blazing flames devastated its historic structure because France doesn’t have trees big enough for the purpose.
The cathedral which is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites was ravaged after the Monday night’s fire brought its roof and spire to the ground.
Unfortunately, the roof of the 850-year-old cathedral can’t be rebuilt exactly like its previous state because ‘we don’t, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 12th and 13th century,’ Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, told France Info radio.
A potential reason behind the unavailability of the required trees is their constant usage in the construction projects after the 12th century.
There are a number of factors which dictate the height of trees such as the genetics of the tree, the availability of the right nutrients, the environmental conditions, and also the competition from neighboring trees.
Certain trees can grow taller than the other trees of the same species due to variation in genetics. If these big trees are cut down, then the smaller ones are left behind to pollinate.
Another factor is the widespread deforestation which started before medieval times and continued for a long time.
Much of the country’s ancient woodland was cleared due to the huge quantity of timber needed in the construction of castles, churches, and ships.
‘You have a stage in France where deforestation was a problem; these buildings consumed huge amounts of wood,’ Columbia University art historian Stephen Murray told Ars Technica.
The cathedral’s official website says the clearing of vast stretches of French forests was causing concern even in the 12th century when Notre Dame was under construction.
Its frame was made of timber beams from around 1,300 ancient trees.
The cathedral, located in the center of Paris, was known for its characteristic Gothic vaulted ceiling comprising of incredible wooden beams and carvings.
However, the entire wooden structure was devastated by the inferno which continued for around 12 hours.
The cathedral’s main spire, made of over 750 tonnes of oak lined with lead, crashed through the timber-framed skeleton after collapsing due to flames.
It’s now nearly impossible to rebuild the structure in the exact same way as it was before.
The structure contained one of the oldest wood timber frames present in France, made from more than 52 acres of trees which were cut down in around 1160.
Experts believe the flames rose quickly due to heavy timber construction containing vast open spaces, and also due to lack of sophisticated fire-protection systems.
After the fire was put out, the golden crucifix and altar of the cathedral, as well as the Blessed Sacrament and King Louis IX tunic, were found to be preserved among the rubble.
The priceless crown of thorns worn by Jesus on the cross was also among the precious objects that were saved.
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