Woodland and Forestry management

Throughout man's history he has attempted to manage his environment, and its resources, prime of which has been the forest, which for a large part of our existence was our only form of shelter. Many Aboriginal people throughout the world still live in wooden structures, either semi-permenant, or temporary, if say on a hunting trip (or just getting away from the wife).

Here in the UK we can trace the history of woodland management, back to the late stone age, but it's not till Anglo-Saxon times some 2,500 years ago that stable populations, needed stable supplies of timber, for housing, cooking,and metalwork. Although the Britain we live in is far less forested than in Anglo-Saxon times, large areas of ancient woodland still exist, both unmanaged and managed.

Early on we realised that timber was a finite resouce and that managed woodlands were able to produce better timber, for longer than just felling the tree and cutting it up. Managed woodlands are dealt with in two ways, coppiceing, and pollarding.

Coppiced trees are cut back to the base, from the stumps (called Stools) of which numerous stout shoots are allowed to develop. These are cut as coppice wood or poles. Some trees, particularly among the conifers, will not produce such shoots. Coppice also means an area of forest which has been coppiced

Timber in a coppice is usually taken in 6, or 25 year cycles.


Here we see a recently harvested trees. Fresh shoots are already emerging, and will grow on to provide the next crop of poles.

Newly coppiced trees are prone to grazing by deer. you'll often see them protected by a woven fence.

Pollarding is an ancient method of forest management, where a young tree would be cut down to 6' - 8' and shoots allowed to grow on out of the reach of grazing cattle and deer. This produced more, but thinner timber, requiring less cutting to produce beams, planks, and poles for fencing.

This practice has to a large extent been abandoned, and the trees shown have gone well beyond the stage where the timber would have been harvested, they are Beech trees photographed in Epping forest, just north-east of London.

Both of these methods have to a large extent been abandoned, due in most part to the fact that they are labour intensive, needing about ten times the workforce needed for a modern forest, where the trees are harvested in their entireity, nowdays with machines, and replaced with seedlings. However some high return timbers such as Hazel for woven fencing, and Willow for basket-weaving are still coppiced.

Here we see the result of this neglect, the 'crotch' of the trunks has filled with water and allowed rot in causing this sort of scene.

Throughout the World areas of woodland of uniform composition exist to supply our need for timber and of course paper.

A forestry plantation of Scots pine

Allen. C. Roffey Monday, June 11, 2018 4:59 PM