Coppice restoration

New shoots growing from a recently coppiced hazel stool

One of the greatest issues facing the coppice industry today is the lack of in-rotation coppice available, particularly hazel. As such, I am eager to assist any woodland owners or managers who are looking to restore out of cycle coppice.

I am able to offer advice and assistance in the preparation of management and rotation plans and grant applications and am able to carry out the physical work for the materials I can get from it and for first refusal on the first cut after restoration.

Please contact me if you are interested in restoring your coppice woodland.

What is coppicing?

6 months' hazel coppice regrowth

Coppicing is a traditional form of woodland management involving cutting trees down to ground level, allowing them to regrow multiple shoots which can be harvested again as manageable poles which can be put to a variety of uses.

Coppicing does not kill the tree, but promotes vigorous re-growth and allows extra light to reach the woodland floor for a few years. This light will stimulate into growth the seeds of woodland plants and flowers which may have lain dormant in the “seed bank” for many years.

This new growth and the varied ages of the trees will provide a rich habitat for many types of wildlife – butterflies, insects, birds and mammals - increasing biodiversity and benefiting the woodland as a whole.

Derelict coppice

Overstood Coppice

Many coppice woodlands have fallen into neglect and are in need of restoration if they are to maximise their benefit to wildlife and return to productivity. As the surrounding trees grow large they can shade out and kill the hazel understorey and prevent the herb layer from germinating in the spring.. As the surviving hazel grows large it may fall apart under it's own weight leaving an impoverished shrub layer to the woodland. Restoration and continued coppice rotation can return the benefits of varied canopy structure and age and increased light on the woodland floor. Though this must always be balanced against the benefits of the existing structure which can have its own unique habitats and biodiversity benefits.

Where restoration is required, a rotation plan can be devised, the overstood coppice can be cut and the canopy thinned where necessary. New plants to replace dead stools will almost certainly be necessary. These can be produced vegetatively from the existing stock, replanted with new trees of local provenance (grown from seed from the local area) or a mixture of the two.

Coppice maintenance

Renovated Hazel Coppice

Restoration is not a one-shot fix and will need continued management in order to protect the re-growth from weeds and pests and ensure that new plants are replaced where they fail to take. This may take the form of mammal control, maintenance of tree shelters or weed clearance.

A cut 3 years after the initial restoration will increase the yield in the following 7 years but is unlikely to produce much usable material, or may be skipped, producing a lower yield at the first coppice.

While coppice workers have been known to pay up to £900 an acre for standing Grade 1 hazel, in many cases it is all but impossible to make restoring derelict coppice economically viable without some form of subsidy; the stool density and the quantity and quality of rods per stool will not be there.

Please contact me if you are interested in restoring your local coppice woodland.