Merits of Coppice Management
Believing in the merit of coppice as a practical and positive alternative for woodland management the 21st Century Coppice Conference 2006 produced the following guidelines for woodland owners and for woodland managers seeking to support proposals for coppice mangement. Please feel free to copy and utilize these as you wish: we should be grateful for acknowledgement of the source.
Regularly managed coppice stools will continue to regenerate more or less indefinitely - for certain for several hundred years for many species (many hundreds for some). There are many examples around the country of sites which have been productive for centuries.
Flexibility of rotation
The cycle of cutting (rotation) varies with species and desired product. Species mixtures and varying markets give a great flexibility to the manager. Rotation might be as little as a year or two for willow, or as much as 30 years for certain oak material. In almost all cases the time of cutting has a season or two flexibility to it as well.
Flexibility of product
Plenty of traditional markets still remain - hurdles, swill baskets, besom brooms, roof shingles etc etc, some of them, like BBQ charcoal, potentially very large markets indeed. The scope for innovation is limitless. Sometimes modification, like creation of panels (which are pinned together at almost any customisable size) instead of woven hurdles, on other occasions really new uses - like the stabilisation of blowing sand by cut coppice materials.
By definition, managed coppice provides materials almost all of which need to be further worked. Working the coppices is, of itself, employment for someone and the fashioning of products from the materials produced can be employment for many more people. Almost without exception, coppiced woodlands are especially useful as safe educational venues bringing today's youth into close contact with ways of working in the environment and with the products.
As with other woodland management systems, coppices are, at the least, carbon neutral and where woodland is extended they provide an additional carbon sink. Maintenance of woodland cover is one aspect of run-off control and, consequently, flood control in river catchments. The great diversity of coppiced woodlands creates a range of habitats within a relatively small geographical area which benefits wildlife.
The change throughout the rotation within coppiced woodlands ensures habitat niches needed by plants, animals, insects, and birds (indeed, all wildlife) are always available - a great contrast to mono-cultural plantation crops of trees. Relatively little modification e.g. retention of old stems, care at ride edges and along water courses hardly affects product outcomes but extends wildlife friendliness with ease.
Many people find woodlands enjoyable for rest and recreation, active and otherwise. Where this contains variety the feeling of well-being is enhanced. Coppices, especially coppices with standards kept in good management rotation, serve these purposes well. If they can be combined with water-edge environments the positive response becomes yet greater.
Most of our coppice woodlands are a heritage in themselves. Management and craft product techniques have been honed over time and are a reservoir of knowledge we can ill-afford to lose.
The above proposals are available for download HERE as a *.pdf file in leaflet format
If the *.pdf link does not automatically open right click, chose "Save link as..." and save to your hard disk before opening with Acrobat Reader (available as a free download off the Web)
CANW wishes to acknowledge the financial support of Arnside and Silverdale AONB Sustainable Development Fund, Awards for All, the Forestry Commission, the Friends of the Lake District, the Lake District National Park Sustainable Development Fund, and the Wood Education Programme Trust in putting on the Conference and in the production of this statement.