What is Coppicing?

What is Hazel Coppice?

Many British broad-leaved trees including hazel can be cut down to the stump. They re-grow producing multiple stems called poles. These poles can be harvested. In the case of hazel the poles are harvested approximately every 8 years and converted into a wide range of products.

Facts about Hazel Coppice

– Coppicing is the oldest form of forestry; woven hazel screens used for fishing have been dated back to 5,000 BC.

– Much of the South East of England’s ancient semi-natural woodland has developed under the coppice management system.

– Hazel coppice products were an indispensable part of the rural economy.

– Coppice work is labour intensive employing ten times more labour than modern forestry systems.

– Hazel coppice is a renewable source of wood.

– There are at least 400 gifted craftsmen working in the coppiced woodlands of Great Britain.

– Good quality hazel coppice is a viable economic crop.

– Coppicing can offer rural employment.

– Coppicing is clean, quiet and environmentally friendly.

Landscape and Wildlife Conservation

– Many species of British flora and fauna have developed under the coppice management system and are only found in working coppice.

– Coppice woodland offers a wide range of habitats.

– Long continuity of the coppice system has enabled many species to adapt to this system.

– Coppice maintains close links with original ancient wildwood.

– Coppice is often appreciated for its magnificent displays of wild spring flowers, some are almost entirely restricted to ancient coppice e.g. Solomon’s Seal and the Early Purple Orchid.

– Woodlands are an important habitat for three-quarters of our 55 species of resident butterflies and the main habitat for 16 of them. In rotation coppice gives diverse conditions and the numerous sunny clearings are favoured by many species.

– The orange woodland fritillaries are almost extinct in the south and east of England except in the coppice woodlands of Hampshire.

– Pearl bordered fritillaries are lost if coppice is out of rotation for longer than 5 years.

– Nightingales and dormice can survive in derelict coppice for longer periods but they need large areas of suitable habitat to sustain viable breeding populations.