Coppicing

Hello and welcome back.

With Spring fast approaching I would like to use my first couple of posts to tell you what we have been doing on the estate during the winter. So with that in mind I shall concentrate on our coppicing work this month.

Coppicing is an extremely effective way of managing woodland and has been going on in some form or other for many centuries. Put simply, coppicing is the cutting and removal of trees and allowing re-growth from the stump that can be harvested several years later. This method can keep a tree alive far longer than its natural lifespan if left untouched. The environmental benefits are great also. Sunlight can now reach the woodland floor, allowing wildflowers to grow, which attracts insects and in turn attracts birds. Here at Sissinghurst we are very much a working estate and all our coppiced timber is put to good use for fencing and hedgelaying material.

Now all you people lucky enough to have gone on safari will know about the ‘Big Five.
Well not to be outdone we also have our ‘Big Five’! It’s just that ours are slightly different… Oak, Beech, Sweet Chestnut, Hazel and Ash.  Sweet Chestnut is the most numerous tree we have on the estate and it is this that we have been coppicing this winter for our products. The felling started in November and finished in late February as this is the coppicing season. Why? Because during these winter months the sap of the tree is low and the energy of the dormant tree is stored in the roots ready to go come the Spring. If we were to cut outside of these months then we would be taking away the energy in the trunk of the tree and this would hinder any re-growth. We also do not want to disturb any wildlife that would be looking to use the trees as nesting sites in the Spring.

untitledOur finished coppiced area in Roundshill Park Wood

So with the felling done we can extract the timber, cut it to the required length, remove the bark to extend the life of the wood, put points on and hey presto you have your fencing stakes. When I say extract the timber I am of course assuming that the mud will dry eventually and we can use our heavy machinery without damaging the tracks…so that will probably be about August then!

In my next post I will talk about the other main winter task and that is hedgelaying, so come out and enjoy the estate and I’ll speak to you soon.

Paul (Ranger)

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