The Notre Dame cathedral cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was before the devastating fire broke through its historic structure because France no longer has trees large enough, experts warn.
Last night's fire erupted at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the French capital, with the tower and roof of the city falling to the ground as flames and clouds of smoke burst into the sky.
Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of the Fondation du Patrimoine conservation group, said today that the cathedral's roof cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire, because we currently do not have trees that are cut to size on our territory. in the 12th and 13th centuries & # 39 ;.
He told France Info's radio that the wooden roof that goes up in flames was built more than 850 years ago from primeval forests with beams.
One factor that could have hampered the growth of the current harvest is that so many of the largest trees in the 12th century were felled for construction projects.
The gothic vaulted ceiling of Notre Dame consisted of an estimated 1300 trees from approximately 51 hectares of old oak forests from the French oak forests
The height of trees is determined by a number of factors, such as competition from the neighbors, environmental conditions, the availability of the right nutrients and also the genetics of the tree.
Certain individual trees within a species probably have a genetic predisposition that makes them larger than other trees.
If you remove the largest trees with this genetic predisposition, only the smaller trees will continue to pollinate.
Another important point is the large-scale deforestation that took place during this period.
Many trees in the medieval forests of France in the period had grown since the 7th and 8th centuries – meaning that some of the wood in the destroyed frame and roof was 1,300 years old.
Such huge amounts of wood were needed in the construction of churches, castles, and ships during this period that much of the ancient forest of France had been cleared.
This deforestation made the reconstruction of such a unique structure even less likely centuries later using similar materials.
Art historian Stephen Murray from the University of Columbia said to Ars Technica: & You have a stage in France where deforestation was a problem; these buildings used huge amounts of wood. & # 39;
The official website of Notre Dame states that even in the 12th century, when the cathedral was built, it cut down huge parts of French forests during construction.
The roof of the cathedral that went up in flames was made of huge oak trees. Simple size and type of tree no longer exist
The entire frame of the 850 year old building in the center of Paris is made of wood from an estimated 1,300 trees that are used to construct the beams.
Notre Dame is famous for these incredible wooden beams and carvings that characterized the gothic vaulted ceiling of the cathedral.
But the inferno, which raged for about 12 hours, destroyed the wooden structure of the medieval building.
The main spire – which consisted of approximately 750 tons of old oak covered with lead – set on fire and crashed through the wooden roof.
The nature of the wooden skeleton of the cathedral means that it will be almost impossible to rebuild it in exactly the same way as before.
The cathedral contains one of the oldest remaining wooden timber frames in Paris, with around 52 hectares of trees cut down in the 12th century.
The spire of Notre Dame collapsed on the wooden roof. The devastating fire stripped the famous cathedral last night
Flames swallowed the roof of Notre Dame cathedral with the steeple collapsing not long after the fire started
Charred damage was seen in Notre Dame Cathedral after the huge fire destroyed the roof and the wooden interior
Each beam is made from an individual tree and gives the lattice of woodwork that forms the ceiling the nickname & # 39; the forest & # 39 ;.
The trees that formed the wooden structure of the roof were cut down around 1160 and some sources estimate that the beams represented 13,000 trees.
Currently, only 4 percent of the remaining forest in Europe is primary forest that has not been affected by human activities.
Experts say that the combination of a structure that is more than 850 years old is built with heavy timber structures and rising open spaces, and no advanced fire protection systems has led to the rapid emergence of flames that endangered the entire cathedral before firefighters set fire caused control.
When the fire was extinct, it was discovered that the golden crucifix and the altar of the cathedral were kept between the smoldering rubble.
One of the most valuable items of the cathedral, a relic that is said to be the crown of thorns bearing Jesus Christ on the cross, was also saved along with the Holy Sacrament and the Louis IX tunic.