Outlook Issue 26 Winter 2018
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Nature Notes
Nature Notes – Coppice Woodlands For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again (Book of Job 14.7) This verse from the Book of Job is true in that it is the basis of the traditional forest practice of coppicing. The word ‘coppice’ comes from the French word couper – to cut. Happily, we can see in Suffolk the continuation of this healthy practice. Cutting ‘cants’ (or areas) of coppice woods produces minor forest products (pea and bean sticks, firewood, charcoal, etc.) Coppice woodland consists mainly of important tree species – oak, ash, hazel, birch – broadleaf trees all. regular winter cutting produces uneven age stands of trees, and this stimulates the growth and variety of many species of fauna and flora. The practice of coppicing is vital to the survival of native plants and creatures. The opening of the woodland canopy, by felling, allows rare and wonderful plants to survive. This is certainly true in Bradfield Woods – protected these many years, and which contains a wealth of flowers. (Layard Wood, Ipswich, a mature coppice wood, is pictured above.) Animals – badgers, foxes, wood mice, stoats, the rare dormouse (pictured below), with its hazel-nut diet, all favour this habitat. Deer also like coppice woods, but are often harmful, especially in larger numbers, as their propensity to chew emergent coppice growth curtails woodland improvement. It is possible, in early spring, to enter a coppice wood, and smell honeysuckle on the breeze, hear a nightingale, and discover oxlip flowers. This have I experienced! After World War II, forestry practice favoured clearing ‘derelict’ coppice woods and planting conifers, to the detriment of native fauna and flora. A new, enlightened policy exists now, and by supporting the work of the Woodland Trust and the Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation, we can help revitalise native woodlands. Michael Stagg