At Moor Barton we have a large area of ancient overgrown hazel coppice, and four younger areas of coppiced hazel, known as coups.
Coppice was the traditional form of silviculture - the art and science of woodland management - practised across many woodlands in lowland Britain. Whilst this practice has been declining for at least a century, in recent years there has been a revival of interest in this form of management.
This emerging revival in coppicing is in part because of its environmental and ecological benefits. The frequent cutting cycles lead to increased hazel growth, which sequesters more carbon. After cutting the hazel, increased light allows existing woodland-floor vegetation such as bluebells, anemones and primroses to grow vigorously. Often brambles grow around the hazel stools, encouraging insects as well as small mammals who use the brambles as protection from larger predators. Woodpiles (if left in the coppice) encourage insects such as beetles to come into an area who in turn encourage rare species such as European nightjar and fritillary butterflies, both of which we have at Moor Barton Wilding. As the hazel grows, the canopy closes and it becomes unsuitable for these plants and animals again - but, in an actively managed coppice, there is always another recently cut coup nearby, and the populations therefore move around, following the coppicing.
At Moor Barton Wilding, we are leaving our ancient, overgrown hazel coppice alone, as there is greater ecological value to leave this coppice as it is. However, we are currently bringing four younger coups back into rotation to provide habitat, as well as firewood. We also aspire to produce home grown, sustainable charcoal in the future to support traditional skills.