Fancy coppicing today!
Coppicing comes from the French word ‘couper’ meaning to cut. It involves cutting a tree at as low a level as possible to create what is known as a coppice stool. From the stool, multiple stems will re-shoot and these are then re-cut on a cycle lasting a few years for trees such as willow to much longer periods of time for slow growing trees (maybe 25 years). The effective result is to create a shrubby tree with many branches.
Stems reshooting from the base of a cut stump
Coppicing is a traditional form of woodland management, popular since mediaeval times, especially in parts of England. Coppice woodlands often include standard trees, such as Oak, that are left to grow in to mature trees alongside the coppiced trees, such as hazel. The coppiced trees and their produce, collectively known as the ‘underwood’, have traditionally supplied timber for firewood, charcoal-burning, fencing wattles and tool handles. The mature trees were left to grow to provide structural timber for house building etc. The coppicing cycle (typically between seven and up to twenty odd years) for the underwood creates different thicknesses of timber for the different uses.