I recently attended West Coast Green here in SF with my friend Bill H. We attended the keynote address by with Bill McDonough who was, as always, entertaining and engaging. He told the following story about New Oxford College:
The college had a main hall built in the early 1600s with beams 40-feet long and two-feet thick. A committee was formed to try to find replacement trees because the beams were suffering from dry rot. If you keep in mind that a veneer from an English oak can be worth seven dollars a square foot, the total replacement costs for the oaks were prohibitively expensive.
A young faculty member suggested, "Why don't we ask the College Forester if some of the lands that had been given to Oxford might have enough trees to call upon?" And when they brought in the forester, he said, "We've been wondering when you would ask this question.
When the present building was constructed 350 years ago, the architects specified that a grove of trees be planted and maintained to replace the beams in the ceiling when they would suffer from dry rot." Bateson's remark was, "That's the way to run a culture." Our question and hope is, "Did they replant them?"