A Day Out - Coppicing

This is the second week in a row that I've been out volunteering on a Thursday. Much colder today than last week but still sunny. We were working in the same area in a small wood at the base of Ditchling Beacon - coppicing.

It's an area that has been left for a long time as can be seen from the four or five large trunks that have grown up from a single stock. The trees are mainly ash and hazel with a few younger hawthorn trees growing up. Anything that could be cut down with a bow saw or loppers was cleared with the large trees being left for the chainsaw later or just left as they were - especially the larger oaks.

Despite being in a wooded area - we still got a good bonfire going to clear all the unusable wood. Anything usable was turned into stakes or binders for hedging and the large logs cut up for firewood. Even if you're only chopping down a tree that's 4-5 inches across there's a lot of height and branches above you that need to be cut up and cleared. The crashing of trees as they were felled - not many yells of 'Timber!' as we were mainly working several metres away from each other. There were seven of us in total and it's very satisfying at the end of the day to look at the area that's been cleared and see what a difference has been made.

Areas like this were coppiced regularly and harvested every few years or sometimes decades later. We tend to think on a much shorter time scales these days. No instant results when you’re planting for planks of wood. Nature won't be hurried - at least not when it comes to growing trees. Knowing that the tree you plant one year wouldn't be harvested until twenty-five or thirty years later.
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