The coppicing of deciduous trees is a technique that introduces a healthy vigour into declining woodland.
To create a coppice in an area of unmanaged woodland, the strongest trees are retained to grow to maturity and simultaneously provide a wind-break, while the struggling trees are cut back to ground level. Multiple shoots then develop from the root system which compete for light and consequently grow very vigorously and mostly very straight.
After twelve years or so, the coppiced trees are cut again to provide poles for various uses and the cycle repeats. The environment in the woods changes from one of decay and abandon to enthusiastic growth with blue-bells, wild garlic and many species of butterfly appearing as if from nowhere.
The coppice project here the Barguillere Valley began with the purchase of 10 hectares (25 acres) of abandoned woodland which will gradually be converted to coppice. The trees are an indigenous mix of oak, ash, sweet chestnut, beech, hazel, poplar and false acacia plus several rarer trees.