Lowland mixed deciduous woodland
Planned Woodland Operations for 2018-19
Coppicing in Codham Hall Wood
This woodland is designated Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ASNW), which has developed under the traditional coppice with standards system. Coppicing is a historic technique to produce firewood and timber, which involves cutting “stools” or the previous growth, to ground level, so that they can re-shoot quickly. Areas within a woodland block are coppiced on a fairly short cycle, so that there should be 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.
The hornbeam in compartment 2a will be re-coppiced as part of a new programme to improve woodland and its biodiversity across Essex County Council woodland estates. Larger standard trees are part of the system, usually grown for timber on their own, much longer cycle. A proportion of standards are usually retained in a coppice compartment providing a variation in heights, ages and habitats. Seed trees are also retained for seeding into the newly open area, where plenty of light allows for germination. Female ash are left as seed trees where they are visibly unaffected by the new ash dieback disease, as well as other species which are less common in the compartment, to maintain diversity. This makes a healthy environment for regeneration and resilience to climate change. There will be supplementary planting after the coppicing, to establish a new generation of standard oak, as well as to provide increased species diversity.
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, or where it has been laid down as a mat to protect the woodland floor against compaction by machinery.
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 is protected by a buffer zone and resumed at a later date.
Halo thinning oak in the remainder of compartment 2
Halo thinning is a judicious removal of young trees or coppice which are having a competitive impact by surrounding a more mature tree. As a low impact operation, it releases sufficient light and ventilation to enable the tree to stay strong and healthy amongst the community. The oak in compartment 2 are to be lightly halo thinned to keep them healthy.