Saturday, 18 January 2014

Coppicing in the Park.

On Thursday 16th of January 5 Friends and volunteers from outside the area started to coppice some young Hazel in the North West corner of the Park. There is some debate as to whether coppicing would have actually taken place on the Park in the 18th-century, but there is little doubt that this North West corner was coppice before the Park came into existence. Some of the ancient hornbeam trees were doubtless incorporated into the Park. Hazel is a relatively short lived tree and the best way to manage it is by coppicing. This means cutting the tree down to near ground level, the following year it will produce a large number of vigourous shoots. These shoots develop into sticks and rods which were typically used for craft purposes including hurdle making and the wattle of wattle and daub walls for buildings. In doing this coppicing we are not only continuing and ancient tradition on the Park but we are also demonstrating a sustainable method of woodland management which can be continued indefinitely into the future.
The trees were cut down to ground level using bowsaws. It is very important to protect the stumps from browsing by rabbits and muntjac, if this is not done then day can severely inhibit the regrowth and possibly threaten the life of the tree. To do this a dead hedge had to be built.
Poles were selected as the felling went along, these were pointed up and driven into the ground in pairs. The tops of the trees were laid in between the paired stakes and finally some “weavers” were used to bind the stakes together. This fence should last long enough to allow the Hazel trees to sprout and grow to a height so that they are out of the way of damage.