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B io Factsheet
Table 1. Some uses of cut trees
Tree species Rotation time (years) Alder Ash 10 - 20 10 - 25

Number 233

Conservation Techniques: Coppicing

This Factsheet: Describes the conservation management of woodlands by coppicing Reviews recent exam questions on this topic Coppicing is an ancient traditional woodland management technique known to have been in use since Neolithic times (4000BC). It involves chopping the main stem of a tree down to a sloping stump which will then respond by producing many smaller shoots which can be left to grow on for 1-25 years, depending upon the desired products, before being coppiced again. Most broadleaved trees, including hazel, ash, oak, hornbeam and sweet chestnut are able to vegetatively regenerate in this way (Fig 1). The advantage of this coppice with standards technique is that the woodland provides large, economically highly valuable timber as well as the many small products that can be made from the smaller coppice shoots (Table1).

Uses of cut trees Chair legs, clogs, board walks, charcoal Tool handles, rakes, fence palings, hurdles, gates and firewood Thatching spars, hedging binders, firewood Basketry, hurdles, bean poles

Hazel Willow

6 - 10 3-5

Fig 1. Coppice

A wood to be coppiced is usually divided into a number of compartments (coupes) which are coppiced in rotation (Fig 4.)

Fig 4. 15 year coppice rotation

1. 2000 2. 2015 2003 deciduous tree (e.g. hazel, ash) cut near to ground level multiple stems of new growth 2012 2006 2009 In most coppiced woodlands some trees are not coppiced they are left to grow on to become large trees or standards (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Coppice with standards

1/5 th of the wood is coppiced every 3 years

path or "ride"

area to be cut (coupe)


year in which coppice is cut

Benefits of coppice
10m Deciduous species, often native and thus provide habitats for many invertebrates and birds High light intensities reaching the floor of young coppice provides good conditions for wild flowers Consists of different aged compartments so they have a diverse internal structure (tree age and size), plus varying abiotic conditions offering many microhabitats and niches Coppicing hugely extends tree longevity - coppiced trees can live for hundreds of years

233 Conservation Techniques: Coppicing

The greatest value for wildlife comes in the early years of the rotation before and just after the tree canopy has closed. Table 2 summarizes the main management principles that will maximize conservation value.

Bio Factsheet

Following coppicing, the biomass of the coppice re-growth increases over time. Ecologists investigated the effect of the regrowth on the biomass of plants on the woodland floor. The graph shows the results of the investigation.
2.5 2.0 biomass of plants on 1.5 woodland floor / 1.0 tonnes ha-1 0.5 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 biomass of coppice re-growth/tonnes ha-1 60

Table 2. Maximizing the conservation value of coppice

Areas to be cut (coupes) should be at least 70m x 70m

Smaller coupes than this tend to get too heavily shaded from adjacent coupes and attract heavy deer browsing Maximizes range of habitats Makes it easier for species that aren't very mobile to colonize new habitat Provides larger blocks of habitat for species with relatively high space requirements

Cut at least one coupe every year Cut successive coupes adjacent to each other

(c) Explain the changes in the biomass of the small plants over the period shown (4) The ecologists collected the data on the biomass of the small plants on the woodland floor with quadrats. (d) (i) Describe how the quadrats would have been placed randomly (2) (ii) Describe how the ecologists would have decided how many quadrats to use in order to collect representative data (3)

Maintain less than 15 large standards per hectare

More than this causes overshading and poor coppice regrowth

Practice Questions
1. Outline the use of coppice with standards in sustainable woodland management (4) 2. The diagram shows the food web in part of a coppiced woodland.
Badger Weasel Fox Green woodpecker Great-spotted woodpecker


Beetle larva



Heath fritillary butterfly




Common cow wheat

Acknowledgements: This Factsheet was researched and written by Kevin Byrne. Curriculum Press, Bank House, 105 King Street, Wellington, Shropshire, TF1 1NU. Bio Factsheets may be copied free of charge by teaching staff or students, provided that their school is a registered subscriber. No part of these Factsheets may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any other form or by any other means, without the prior permission of the publisher. ISSN 1351-5136


(a) Identify the organism that feeds at two trophic levels (1) (b) Suggest why some dead and diseased trees are allowed to remain in the woodland (2)

(c) Biomass of small plants increases rapidly following coppicing as light intensity reaching woodland floor increases; More photosynthesis; Less competition for water/minerals; When the biomass of the coppice re-growth exceeds 5 tonnes, the biomass of small plants decreases because less light reaches the ground vegetation; greater competion; so less photosynthesis;

Maintain high density of stools by layering (partially cutting through stem, bending and pegging it along the ground until it sends out new shoots

Replaces inevitable dead or diseased stools

2. (a) Badger; (b) Provide habitat e.g. for beetle larva; Provide food source;

1. tree cut to sloping stump close to ground; new shoots form; harvest periodically in same way; rotational coppicing to maximize age and size range of trees/ maximize habitats; ref to how coppicing increases biodiversity e.g. by increasing habitats / increasing light intensity for seed germination / seedling growth/ creates varied abiotic conditions; provides continuous source of products/fencing/poles/furniture/ charcoal; standards provide larger planks/ more valuable timber;

(d) (i) Tapes at right angles to delineate area; Use of random number tables/calculator to generate coordinates; Quadrats placed on the coordinates; (ii) Calculate running mean; Plot on a graph; When curve levels off/running mean no longer increasing then this indicates no further quadrate required; Large number will ensure reliability; Not so many that there would be insufficient time;

Maintain large areas of all ages Maximizes range of habitats up to 10 years Birds such as nightingales and warblers depend on middle-aged growth but most of the flowers and invertebrates thrive in the very youngest growth