Coppicing

is a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge, and, after a number of years the coppiced tree, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again.

A Rencon Forestry staff member in action thinning back blue gum coppice re-growth.

History

In the days of charcoal iron production in England, most woods in ironmaking regions were managed as coppices, usually being cut on a cycle of about 16 years. In this way, fuel could be provided for that industry, in principle, forever. This was regulated by a statute of Henry VIII, which required woods to be enclosed after cutting (to prevent browsing by animals) and 12 standels (standards or mature uncut trees) to be left in each acre, to be grown into timber.

The variation of coppicing known as coppice with standards (scattered individual stems allowed to grow on through several coppice cycles) has been commonly used throughout the British Isles as a means of giving greater flexibility in the resulting forest product from any one area. Not only does the woodland provide the small material from the coppice but also a range of larger timber for jobs like house building, bridge repair, cart making and so on.

Coppiced hardwoods were extensively used in carriage and shipbuilding, and they are still sometimes grown for making wooden buildings and furniture.
Some Eucalyptus species are coppiced in a number of countries.

Sometimes former coppice is converted to high-forest woodland by the practice of singling. All but one of the regrowing stems are cut, leaving the remaining one to grow as if it were a maiden (uncut) tree.

 

A Rencon Forestry staff member pruning back a Blue Gum to a single stem in Victoria, Australia.

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