We have received approval for our work plan to implement coppicing and tree related work in the wood. This had to be approved as Park Wood has a Wood Protection Order which is a blanket Tree Preservation Order covering all shrubs and trees on the site.
At our January workday we started coppicing, beginning with ash saplings which can grow faster than hazel and many other tree species. In the past, we had concentrated on coppicing just the hazel, but now we have been advised by the Woodland Trust to coppice an area rather than single hazel stools to encourage a more mixed diversity of species in the shrub layer. This switch will allow us to manage the ash and holly which are starting to dominate parts of the wood where we have hazel and other species that we wish to keep and encourage.
Coppicing is an ancient method of managing a wood. Coppice comes from the French for cutting. Coppice trees are cut close to ground level every few years and treatment varies from species to species and what size of timber is needed. The trees then send out new shoots around the base of the cut stumps so that there is a constant supply of timber being produced in a wood. The resulting small timber provides the raw materials for handles, besom brooms, firewood and charcoal, fencing rails and fence posts, hurdles and small items of furniture, etc. Over time many woodland species have adapted and thrived in woods with coppice rotations. By reintroducing coppicing, areas of dense shade are open up to light and over a short time a greater diversity of canopy height is created allowing more light to get to the woodland floor, which in turn encourages a greater diversity of plants, bringing more insects and mammals into the wood. Coppicing helps a small wood like ours to maximise its potential to benefit as broad a range of wildlife as possible within a small area.