THIS month, John Shaw, from Chiltern Rangers, writes to readers about the importance of coppicing our woodlands.

If you head out into our local woods at this time of year you will come across evidence of the historical woodland management technique of coppicing.

This ancient practice involves repetitive felling (over time) on the same stump and makes use of the natural regeneration of many species, particularly Hazel but also Ash, Oak, Maple and Lime.

The regrowth can be surprisingly fast (up to 5cm a day) and Oak can grow as much as 2m in a season.

The cut stump is known as the stool and the shoots as rods, poles or logs depending on size.

Coppiced woods are usually divided into compartments, or coupes, and are cut on a rotational cycle of seven-15 years.

The coppiced material was traditionally used for a variety of purposes such as sheep hurdles, fencing, tool handles, brooms, charcoal and furniture.

Coppicing has huge benefits for woodland biodiversity with the creation of small glades leading to increased light levels which in turn leads to more ground flora and invertebrates like butterflies.

Also, Hazel coppice is particularly good for Dormice, one of Britain’s rarest mammals.

It is really important to note that coppicing does not deplete woodlands.

Demands for charcoal or fuel did not lead to the decline of woodlands and woods that are not worked can become derelict with a permanent high canopy and decreased biodiversity - working in woods helps them.

n Chiltern Rangers is a social enterprise working with local communities to provide practical habitat management of the woodlands, chalk grassland, commons, ponds and chalk streams in the Chilterns’ area.

In 2018, they welcomed 3,918 volunteers who contributed 12,085 hours of work in the community.

To find out how you can get involved or volunteer your time, go to