|Although the Romans had used England's forests for fuel, by the sixteenth century A.D. those forests had recovered enough to support several booming industries--copper smelting, salt production, glass making, and of course, shipbuilding. Wood was also in heavy demand for building supplies and for domestic fuel. Over and over again, common people had trouble finding enough wood to heat and cook with, as industrial uses of wood intensified. As the forests dwindled in areas near the sea or close to river transport, unsuccessful attempts were made to enact laws for forest conservation.|
Above: Although many forests have been cut down, some areas of England are naturally open plains and were never covered with trees. Photo credit Corel Photo Clipart CD. Below: One of the most important uses of wood was for shipbuilding. Photo credit Corel Photo Clipart CD.
|As England's rulers chalked up greater debts, they became ever more eager to sell off the forests--particularly to their friends who ran the empire's iron industry. Between about 1600 and 1640, the English cut down the forests of Ireland to fuel their ironworks and build ships.|
|The British navy was constantly short of wood. Even in the late sixteenth century, it took about 2,000 oak trees at least 100 years old to build one large warship. Meanwhile, the ironworks were using massive amounts of English wood to make cannons and sell them to foreigners. Then, in 1666, London burned to the ground, and finding enough wood to rebuild the city was very difficult.|
[wood & forest products] [threats to forests]
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