For thousands of years coppice woodlands were DIY superstores for local people. But what is a “coppice”? Why was it so useful? And is it still useful in today’s world?
In Medieval times these woodlands supplied the wood needed for everyday life. They were made by cutting down trees and shrubs (such as hazel) to stumps and harvesting the regrowth every 5 to 15 years to produce a crop of wooden poles. These were used for many things such as making buildings, hurdles for fencing, barrels, baskets, besoms (brooms), rakes and firewood. Later they provided the charcoal to make gunpowder in the age of muskets, cannons and empire building.
Coppice woodlands are rarer now but still provide a beautiful habitat for wildlife. But they do have their downsides. They contain little of the deadwood (like the logs you see surrounding this area) on which about 1,000 British animal species depend. And this lack of deadwood also reduces their capacity for storing carbon and mitigating climate change – and that’s bad news for all of us.