What is Coppicing?

What is Coppicing?

Coppicing is an ancient form of woodland management where a tree is repetitvely cut at ground level on a regular cycle (7-20 years) depending on the species of tree and the craft it will be used for. After cutting the coppice tree in winter, growth is stimulated and multiple stems regrow from the stump the following spring, forming a stool.
Coppicing is practiced on rotation, whereby a woodland is split into sections, often called a coup. Coups are cut year after year meaning the coppice continually produces wood and will eventually come full cycle. This method of woodland management is sustainable (meaning it will last a long long time!) and as long as the regrowth is protected the tree will live longer than if it wasn’t cut at all.
Other bigger trees, called standards, are left amongst the coppice to mature for larger products and increased biodiversity.
Most broad-leaf deciduous trees will coppice including Hazel, Ash, Oak, Elm, Lime, Birch, Willow and Sweet Chestnut among others.

Lime Coppice at Westernbirt Arboretum which is a staggering 2000 years old!

Lime Coppice at Westernbirt Arboretum which is a staggering 2000 years old!

Why Coppice?

Coppicing is the most low-impact, productive and beneficial method of woodland management. It’s beneficial for the woodsman, the woodland and especially the wildlife. We are currently experiencing a coppicing revival, moving away from relying on cheap, imported products and recognising what our native woodland can provide.
It also provides a steady, sustainable source of wood and timber that can be put to many uses including hurdles, beanpoles, firewood, charcoal and timber framing. More importantly it creates a healthy woodland with valuable habitats for flora and fauna and the rotational nature of coppicing means the woodland as a whole has immense biodiversity!

Wood Anemone amongst Coppice - woodland flora such as this benefits from the regular cutting cycle of rotational coppice as it lets in light and gives other plants an opportunity to flourish.

A beautiful display of Wood Anemones amongst Coppice – woodland flora such as this benefits from the regular cutting cycle of rotational coppice as it lets in light and gives ground flora an opportunity to flourish.

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