Planned Woodlands Operations for 2018-19
Coppicing in Border Wood
Coppicing is a historic management technique to produce firewood and timber, involving cutting “stools” or the previous growth, to ground level, so that they can re-shoot quickly. Areas within a woodland block are usually coppiced on a fairly short cycle, so that there is an ongoing patchwork of different ages and heights of coppice and seedling regeneration, providing constant habitat for biodiversity. Natural British flora and fauna have co-evolved with this system over thousands of years.
Because Border Wood is small and narrow in shape, two small plots will be coppiced as part of a new programme to improve woodland and its biodiversity across Essex County Council woodland estates. There will be supplementary planting after the coppicing, to establish a new generation of oak trees, as well as to provide increased species diversity. There will also be a light thinning where beneficial throughout the rest of the wood to lighten the canopy, increase ventilation and encourage the oak and wild service trees. This will help to develop a shrub layer, give light to wild flowers and natural regeneration at ground level. With more light and warmth under the canopy, it will increase habitat for biodiversity.
The tops of the trees are termed “brash”, which can appear quite considerable after woodland work. This disappears in a few years, after doing a job of protecting regenerating stools and seedlings.
Prior to starting work, the area is surveyed for potential bat roots and other protected species’ habitat. This includes birds in the nesting season. If any are found, that section of the work will proceed at a later date.
Deer populations around Border Wood are considered moderate. This means they adversely impact the most vulnerable phase of woodland regeneration through browsing shoots and seedlings. Regenerating coppice plots will be protected with temporary deer fencing. The fence will be up for about 4 years, until the understorey is strong and thick enough to be self-protecting. The footpath will run along the South side of the fences.