Friday, 8 November 2013

Coppicing hazel

Hazel is a plant that naturally produces a lot of stems from the roots.
   If left alone, many of these stems will die,

but if you cut it back to ground level you can get a crop of poles every five years or so, ideal for bean sticks  The twiggy tops can be used for pea sticks.
If you leave it a bit longer than five years the wood gets thicker

and can be used for rustic poles and pergolas, or for hedging stakes. 
Coppicing is traditionally done in winter when the plant is dormant.  The harvested poles are then less likely to rot.  They only last a few years if left outside, but you can always cut another 'stool' or two, as the roots are called.
Most of our native broad-leaved trees (not the conifers) will coppice.  That is, you can cut them right down without killing them.  This technique for managing woodlands produced a mosaic of habitats with bare ground, half-grown coppice wood and mature trees, which was great for a very varied wild life.
Coppicing was used in the past to produce all sorts of products that are now frequently made of plastic. 
In about 1900 coppicing was pretty well abandoned
because it didn't pay. 
Since the 1970's it has been used more as a conservation tool to create varied habitats for flowers, insects and birds.  Ideally it can be used to make useful stuff as well as to promote biodiversity. 

At Filnore Woods we will be making use of the wood we cut for posts, hedging stakes, stepbuilding and path edging. Any left over stuff will become bean poles, pea sticks, firewood or even charcoal. This could become a source of income for the Friends of Filnore Woods, as we have no income at all at present.



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