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.

Alder StoolIn a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level to leave a ‘stool’. In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge, and after a number of years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again.

All broadleaved trees can be coppiced but some species are stronger than others. The strongest are ash, hazel, oak, sweet chestnut and lime whilst the weakest include beech, wild cherry and poplar.

Typically, a coppiced woodland is harvested in sections (called coups or coupes) on a rotation. In this way, a crop may be available each year somewhere in the woodland. The cycle length depends upon the species cut, the local custom, and the use to which the product is put

CoppiceIf the coppice cycle is managed correctly it can increase biodiversity in the woodland because of the beneficial effects of varying light levels reaching the woodland floor, and the range of different aged trees and stools in the woodland.

Coppicing maintains trees at a juvenile stage, and a regularly coppiced tree will never die of old age. Some coppice stools may therefore reach immense ages. The age of a stool may be estimated from its diameter, and some are so large that they are thought to have been continuously coppiced for centuries. Coppicing has been traced back to Neolithic times by archaeologists who have excavated wooden tracks over boggy ground made entirely of coppiced material.

Coppiced stems are characteristically curved at the base. This curve occurs as the competing stems grow out from the stool in the early stages of the cycle, then up towards the sky as the canopy closes.

A coppiced tree which has been left to mature

Coppiced Tree