A successful coppice season draws to a close

From October 2019 to March 2020 we’ve been busy restoring a 1 hectare patch of over stood hazel and sycamore coppice within May Hill woodlands. We started a very busy coppice season with a really enjoyable coppice camp coordinated by the Small Woods Association. Over 20 people joined us over four days. They camped in our main campsite- with good food, music and conversation around the fire in the group barn each night. The group was amazingly productive, leaving behind them a much-improved coppice woodland with piles of hazel rods, ready to be used as hedging stakes, bean poles and binders.

Unfortunately, this particular site was mainly hazel coppice dominated by large ash standards (large trees). As the area will be regularly managed from here on, it was necessary to remove these large ash trees, most of which were succumbing to the ash dieback disease, which is wiping out native ash trees over the breadth of the country. Many of these trees were removed over a week long chainsaw training course in December 2019. It was sad to see the end of these beauties but necessary to remove them before they became a safety hazard.

Each month we’ve held a monthly social coppice weekend, and attracted volunteers to help us further work this coppice woodland – in return for soup and cake! An eclectic crew of locals has joined us to help with the area as well as try their hand at a few coppice crafts like chair and stool making.

Our woodland assistant Rhys Hancock and nephews Bryn and David Freeman have spent many days over the winter months further restoring and tidying this area.

Now the first shoots of spring are appearing, we will down tools and leave the coppice stools to regenerate. We’ve just installed the fences around the woodland to keep the deers at bay so the fresh shoots can thrive without being eaten. Now all that remains is to let nature do its work!

We are very glad that Small Woods Association’s coppice camp will return in October 2020 to commence another coppice season in May Hill woodlands, focusing on neighbouring coppice woodland to the site where we focused our efforts this season.

Thank you so much to everyone who gave their time and assistance to making this season of coppicing such a successful one!