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What is a Fascine?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Fascines are bundled collections of brushwood that are used to in several basic applications. One common use of the fascine is in the creation of a footpath that is relatively level in comparison to the surrounding terrain. These brushwood bundles can also be used to help protect a strip of land from erosion, as well as add strength to some sort of earthen structure. All these applications have been in use for centuries, with well-documented examples found as far back as the day of the Roman Empire.

The key to the construction of a fascine is to sort and bundle the brushwood so that it creates a more or less uniform barrier that can then be used for the application at hand. For example, creating a fascine that is flat and somewhat dense is an ideal option when constructing a footpath over a stretch of soft ground. The presence of a series of fascines in marshland or even on land that has been saturated by a great deal of rain prevents individuals from getting bogged down as they attempt to walk through the area.

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Another common application of fascine brushwood is in helping to protect an area from the effects of erosion. For example, placing fascines along the banks of a stream will help to slow down the erosion of the banks. At the same time, it can be employed as one of the components in earthen dams, or even in dwellings created with clay or other forms of earthen materials. The presence of the brushwood helps to add more stability to the structure, thus extending its life.

Fascines have long been used in wartime situations. The bundles can be used to fill in trenches, making it easier for foot soldiers and even tanks to cross over terrain. Fascine paths in swampland also helps make foot travel quicker and easier to manage. Fascine earthen structures can also be used to protect batteries of artillery, while still allowing the artillery to be easily accessed.

During the 20th century, the other products have also been used to create a modern version of the fascine. One approach involves the use of sturdy plastic pipes that are strapped into bundles. The outer layer of pipes sometimes is equipped with chains that run through several of the pipes. The end result is a sturdy fascine that can be assembled in advance and carried along on tanks for deployment whenever the tank enters an area with terrain that is hard to navigate.

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