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History

Coppicing is an ancient way of managing woodlands whereby trees are felled at their base and allowed to regrow to provide a sustainable supply of timber. The practice of coppicing has been traced back to Neolithic times by archaeologists who have discovered wooden tracks over boggy ground that are made entirely of coppiced material.

Through the 18th and 19th centuries coppiced woodlands provided firewood, charcoal for the smelting of iron, wooden hoops for gunpowder barrels, bark for the tanning industry, fencing for agriculture, pegs for thatching and bundles of brushwood used as fenders in the dockyards. However, by the mid-20th century coppicing was in rapid decline and many coppice woods were replanted with conifers or simply neglected.

On the Island the practice was kept alive in the 20th century by a handful of dedicated woodland owners and workers. In recent years it has seen a resurgence in interest as the ecological value of coppicing woodlands has been better understood and new markets for charcoal and firewood have opened up.