Sustainable Woodland Management
Sustainably managed woodland can be both productive and beneficial to the environment.
Broadleaf woodlands full of native species create an important habitat for a wide range of wildlife, the woods and any timber produced can be a carbon sink, and the wood can either be used as a timber or as a biofuel (which, depending on how it’s harvested, can be considered carbon neutral).
Coppicing is a traditional woodland management technique with a long history in the UK. It can be used to manage many native and non-native broadleaf trees.
Coppicing involves cutting a tree back to just above ground level. The trees then re-sprout from around the base of the tree, producing shoots that, when managed correctly, can produce straight bits of timber of various lengths and suitable for a variety of tasks (depending on the species of wood and how long the shoots are left to grow).
In a coppice system, areas of woodland tend to be clear-felled in a rotation, though larger trees (known as maidens or standards), often of a different species to the trees coppiced (such as oak), can be left to grow into larger trees.
The length of time between rotations can be varied depending on the tree species or what the timber is wanted for.
By managing woodlands in a sustainable manner it is possible to create a diverse ecosystem teeming with biodiversity both above and below the ground.
As relatively small areas are clear-felled, and as surrounding woodland is left intact, far less run-off and soil erosion occurs and there are less of the negative environmental impacts often associated with long term forestry. The timber itself can be of a high quality, if correctly managed.
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