Coppicing for a better future

It has been many years since the area between the Severn Trent reservoir and The Larches has been coppiced. ideally it should be coppiced on a rotation every five or seven years with the bigger branches being take out each time and leaving whips to grow in their place.

That leaves a more open and healthy wood. Over the past two weeks our volunteers have been trying to achieve just that. There is a little more work to do before we finish but then we will move on to another area

Coppicing is a traditional, sustainable and productive form of woodland management.

In a coppiced wood, trees are regularly cut off at ground level, causing many rods (rather than one large trunk) to grow from the stump or ‘stool’. The rods that grow from the stool are straight and long and can be used for many products. Most of our native trees will coppice well, with the most common species including hazel, ash, oak, birch, alder, and sweet chestnut (non native).

A coppiced wood is cut on a cycle, which can be anything from 5 to 30 years, depending on the size of the poles required. The wood is divided into areas or ‘coups’, equal to the number of years in the cycle, so one area is cut each year until you are back to the beginning

Coppicing is great for wildlife as it allows light into the woods, causing a burst of growth and flowering of the woodland plants, increasing the diversity of species and creating a variety of vegetation heights within the wood. A coppiced woodland will encourage a wide diversity of insects, plants and animals to flourish such as woodland edge butterflies; in a derelict coppiced woodland, many of these species are likely to disappear.