Techniques for woodland management

My local woodland has had a variety of different management techniques applied historically as well as in more recent times. Coppicing, pollarding, habitat management and the protection of dead wood have been some of the more prominent techniques.

Coppicing: this is a technique designed to take advantage of the tree’s natural ability to regenerate over time. The young tree is cut-back low to the ground (the coppice stool) so that new shoots and grow. These can then be harvested for their timber: for poles, long handles, hurdles and stakes for hedge-laying, for example. Coppicing can be completed in a rotational system but should not take place in small woodlands and only really on trees that are not very slow growing.

Pollarding: this is similar to coppicing but takes place higher off the ground (2m approx.) to allow for the presence of deer and other animals that enjoy young shoots close to the ground. Pollarding takes place in a rotational system throughout a wood, allowing for a variation in tree age, taller, older trees and the creation of glades, allowing for an increase in biodiversity.

Habitat management: woodland edge habitats can be created through the development of rides, glades and large meadows. These types of habitats can become easily overgrown if not managed and restrict the variety of species in a local area. Bird and bat boxes, are another example of managing habitat to help build a sustainable ecosystem. Creating easy to find, well-defined walk-ways for people also helps to reduce the wider impact of humans on the woodland.

Dead wood: this is allowing standing dead wood to remain in situ (where safe) to provide an abundance of opportunity for flora and fauna to thrive. Once fallen, or purposefully felled, the dead wood should remain as whole as possible to continue to offer habitat as well as nourishment through decomposition. Operating a dead wood technique – instead of removing it from the site – promotes the growth of a strong ecosystem and homes for a large variety of life.

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