Chineham Conservation Group Update

Published: 09 May 2023

Chineham Conservation Group Update

Coppicing - what is it?

Coppicing, from the French word couper, meaning to cut, is a woodland management practice carried out since the Stone Age. Trees are felled at their base, creating a “stool”. This stimulates changes in plant hormones, generating lots of new growth from buds on the side of the stump.

How is it done?

Coppicing is typically performed on younger trees, making it easy to do using simple hand tools such as bow saws. Traditionally, woodland areas are split into different “coupes”, cut on rotation to provide a constant supply of wood. UK native species suitable for coppicing include hazel, sweet chestnut, ash and lime, the most common being hazel which has a rotation time of about 8 years.

What is the wood used for?

The new growth provides long, straight “poles” which can be used for a variety of purposes including building, fencing and charcoal making. They are also ideal as bean poles for your vegetable garden! Demand for these products is not as high in modern times, so we often use the cut material to create “dead hedges”. These help to protect the coppiced area, giving it time to recover and for new growth to establish. They also provide excellent deadwood habitat for a wide range of animals.

Is it good for wildlife?

Periodic cutting actually extends the life of trees, some coppiced stools may be many hundreds of years old! It also allows increased light to reach the woodland floor, encouraging growth of specialist plants like bluebells, wood anemones and marsh marigolds as well as climbers like honeysuckle. These provide vital food sources for butterflies and insects, in turn increasing numbers of birds and mammals. Over several years the trees grow back and shade out these plants again creating a constantly changing mosaic of varied habitats. One species which relies on this diverse habitat is the Hazel Dormouse. The dense understory created provides this arboreal (tree-living) mammals with food and shelter as well as a safe way to travel through the woodland without going down to the ground.

Want to get involved?

The Chineham Conservation Group meet regularly to carry out practical conservation tasks to benefit nature in the Chineham woodlands. To find out more or join them please email