Matthew became extremely interested in trees and how to best grow them for the Royal Navy’s benefit. Wood was used to build the Navy’s warships and without them the British empire would cease to advance. The navy required the best trees and these were the trees that were cut down to supply its demands. Matthew saw a problem in this. If you have a forest of trees and you cut down the best ones then you are left with the weak trees, or those you would not want to use.
What Matthew proposed was a method that would replenish the forest with trees of only the best quality. By systematically removing the trees of poor quality first you could allow the best trees, and the best timber, to propagate. Over time you would have a forest of desirable trees. Perhaps even new varieties of desirable trees.
Matthew published his ideas in a book titled On Naval Timber and Arboriculture. There were a few positive reviews but they were somewhat tepid in their praise. Only a couple happened to notice something else that Matthew had mentioned in his book. A certain passage that appeared in the book’s appendix. This passage would catch the eyes of Charles Darwin after a letter written by Matthew prompted a mini-drama to play out in the pages of Gardener’s Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette.
Mentioned In This Episode:
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Read On Naval Timber and Arboriculture online.
Read The Gardener’s Chronicle article that started the controversy.
Music in the Episode
All music in this episode was composed by Rick Coste