Krapo Arboricole is the largest independent blog on trees and forestry in the world. Created by one man, Christophe Virat, it has become the reference point for all those interested in ancient and venerable trees in France. In a country which has little existing recorded information (unlike the UK) and which saw much destroyed by the French revolution there was scant information with regards such trees before Krapo Arboricole was started (Krapo is a tree frog who hosts the site).
There is a myth, still perpetuated, that there are few ancient trees in France. Christophe Virat has long since busted this myth and Krapo Arboricole has gained the enviable status of being one of the few websites which cannot be equalled by printed literature. And amazingly he has done this without any funding at all.
Here he writes exclusively for SoW:
My passion for trees began as a child. Born in Paris I discovered this passion at the age of 6, my eyes suddenly opened to the magnificence of wide open space, animals, trees and the forest.
Following this, my grandfather took me to visit the ancient and venerable trees that can be found in Brittany. It was an unforgettable experience to see the young saplings and what they became, Old Oaks or Chestnuts. Simply amazing!
My love for trees was firmly established and grew in the following years to come. And whilst my studies took me away from this love, I continued to read up and collate information on the subject. Then four years ago, a friend of mine suggested using my knowledge and publishing it on the internet.
My blog Krapo Arbricole was created in January 2008, it took me time to become famililar with the technology and tools available, (it was not easy at first).
But I started to publish my photo collection and the information I had collated over the years.
I wanted the public to discover these old trees for themselves, to be persuaded to meet them personally.
For many months I worked alone and then one day a letter arrived; someone else with the same passion at the other end of France, who wanted to share their knowledge on the site.
From that day things accelerated, with many other lovers of trees emerging. In three years the blog is now the home of 200 people who wanted to share their knowledge and participate in the adventure!
And although at first some of the data came by way of printed literature, little by little the wealth of trees unknown to the general public and not listed before became available, people offering the data to me as a gift for others as if it were a treasure for the nation. The result is impressive by the sheer quality and quantity of the reports.
Although I am the owner of the blog, I am more like an editor. I keep the wording submitted from the ‘reporters’ sent with the photos of trees and as such attempt to keep intact the emotions portrayed of those who have encountered the trees.
This is because we all have a different perception of our old trees, from different backgrounds based on culture, education and spirituality. This is why the blog works for me, a mixture of all our knowledge and all our personalities.
In parallel, I deliberately wanted to highlight the mythology related to trees. Previously there were only some Celtic myths cited on the internet or the ‘dendrôlatrie (the worship of trees) as present in all civilisations. For me it was as important to report on the remarkable nature of the trees themselves and allow them to amaze us by their power and beauty, although they are much more than just aesthetic elements of the landscape. The World Tree is just that, it is universal: all civilisations, religions, regions – basically all people at some point in their history have had a dedicated worship aimed towards these pillars of the world, these guardians of all times. Trees appear as the link to bring people together, transcending all our differences.
Thus the website grew; I added links, science, photos and illustrations, animated films, documentaries and the writings by poets and authors that have been inspired by trees. The blog has become a force, growing increasingly dense as the theme is inexhaustible.
This experience as been the most beautiful thing I have ever been part of. I do it on a voluntary basis and one day may find the funds to allow me to live doing this full time, I would be a very happy man.
‘’Long live the trees and on earth peace to men of good will!’’
To read Christophes’ article in his original tongue, French, please click below:
The beautiful photographs of ancient trees in France are used with kind permission from Christophe Virat. Christophe has many more photographs like these which can be found on his website: Krapo Arboricole