Natural Interests

Natural Interests, Caroline Ford, £39.95, Harvard University Press ISBN: 978-0- 674-04590-3

LOOKING at recent concerns over the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides across much of the French farming industry it seems hard to believe that environmental consciousness here dates back to the early-1800s.

Today it is farming’s effect on the bee population – without which many farms would have little or no produce to sell – but back then it was the damage being done by deforestation that started a new look at how the natural world should be managed, if at all.

In Fontainebleau, the Bar­biz­on school of artists became some of the first environmental saboteurs as they tried to protect the forest from being destroyed by ill-planned pine plantations. People could only attend their dinners if they arrived with recently-uprooted pine saplings: pine to dine.

This interesting and thought- provoking book looks at the start of environmental awareness with innovative legislation to protect the Fontainebleau landscape and its oak trees.

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