Coppicing is an ancient woodland management technique that was once used to ensure regular supplies of timber and firewood. Trees are cut close to the ground on a regular cycle. They regrow from dormant buds at the base of the stump (known as the stool) to create dense stands of multi-stemmed trees. The new stems grow back faster to provide a sustainable timber supply rather than harvesting more mature, thicker branches.
Traditionally, the long straight poles produced by coppicing would have been used for fencing, building and in the garden as bean poles.
These days, coppicing is primarily a way of improving the health and biodiversity of a woodland area by opening it up to the sunlight and allowing a wider range of plants to flourish.
In Vicarage Grove, the Wenhaston Commons Group carried out some very small scale coppicing in the 1990’s, but the last large scale coppicing was carried out just after the Second World War.
Visitors will notice that we are currently experimenting with a small area or ‘coupe’ to monitor the rate of regrowth and see what other woodland plants emerge from seed that has laid dormant for many years. Because the young shoots are very palatable to deer and hares a protective dead hedge of cut holly has been woven around the perimeter.
The AONB volunteers made a really good job of making the dead hedge using holly that they had cut on their last visit.
Then, in early February, a Blyth Woods work party coppiced the trees in the enclosure, cut the wood into manageable lengths, ( 4 ft is the traditional length) and stacked it. The cut stumps were covered with crashing from the trees to give further protection from any deer or hare that pushed through the Holly.