Le Chenit. The vast Risoux spruce forest, located at an altitude of about 1,200 meters in the territory of Switzerland and France, contains trees hundreds of years old of rare perfection, with qualities sought by luthiers from all over the world.
François Villard, a Swiss forester in the Jura mountains, fears that the tiny young spruce less than a finger high, which he gently caresses, will not be able to withstand climate change.
I have never seen so many dry treessays Villard, who is nearing retirement. It saddens him to see so many trees turn red, lose their needles and dry up.
When I arrived here, in the Joux Valley, 30 years ago, there was an average annual temperature of five to six degrees. Now it’s way above that. I have had winters of -27 degrees in the day, and three or four winters ago the coldest it gets is -13 to -17 degreesVillard says.
Guitars, violins and other stringed instruments are made from the resonant wood of spruce, the most common tree in Switzerland.
The sound box must be able to vibrate easily and at the same time withstand the pressure of the bridge, characteristics that this tree has more than other species.
However, the wood must meet several criteria that only some spruce do. Some say that only one tree in a thousand or 10 thousand have the conditions.
The base of the trunk must have a diameter of at least 50 centimeters, between 200 and 400 years old, be free of resin flows and without knots, have grown straight, slowly and very regularly, so that the growth rings are tight. and constant. The harsh climate of the Jura makes it possible.
At the Swiss Resonance Wood workshop in Brassus, an employee sketches the outline of a guitar onto a thin sheet of wood. Thousands more are piled up drying for years.
There are about 2 thousand pieces of guitar charts, including classical, romantic, folkexplains the head of the company, Théo Magnin.
On a mezzanine, hundreds of large pieces of wood are kept in the shape of a triangular prism, thanks to which the luthiers will be able to make violins and cellos. The company exports the wood all over the world.
music of the future
Magnin, engaged in the timber trade since his childhood, is concerned:
I don’t know where musical instrument manufacturers will source from in 10 or 20 years. If you don’t get more wood, there will be no more instrument.
Dryness weakens spruce trees, attracting the bark beetle, a forest pest.
And extreme weather conditions impact tree growth by altering the regularity of the rings.
If it continues like this, the stress that these trees will suffer will be stronger and stronger and it is not certain that they will surviveteme Villard.
The ranger insists on the
need for survival of the spruces, reflected in the fruiting periods, especially among young trees.
They fructify to reproduce and thus continue to exist.Explain.
Fearing spruce scarcity, Philippe Ramel, a Lake Geneva luthier who makes two to four guitars a year from Swiss Resonance Wood, urges not to overuse the wood.
There are factories that produce a thousand guitars per month, does it make sense Question.
But it’s not all bad news. Keeping more broadleaf trees in certain locations helps maintain some moisture in the soil. Others point out that there is a high volume of standing timber in the forest.
In seasons that are sheltered from climatic extremes, especially in the north, there will be spruce for a long time. Today there are millions of trees in the mountains and that, with the height, it can benefit from a slight increase in temperature if the rainfall does not drop too low.said Philippe Domont, a forester.
Magnin sees further and thinks that other wood will have to be found, but
that will be the music of the future.