Background information and definitions
Coppicing is a management practice typical of Eurasian northern temperate zone deciduous woodlands and wood pastures, in which stems of tree species, such as hazel Corylus avellana and sweet chestnut Castanea sativa, are cut near ground level once every few years, often in defined coppice compartments. These then regrow from the cut ‘stool’ giving a sustainable yield of woody material harvested on a rotational basis.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A before-and-after study between 1950 and 1962 in a pine-oak forest in Pennsylvania, USA (Sharp 1963), found that the local population of ruffed grouse Bonasa umbellus declined over time, as coppiced woodlands became more mature and developed thick ground cover and mid-storey canopy. Similarly, the use of coppiced woodland by grouse broods decreased over time.Study and other actions tested
A before-and-after study between 1975 and 1984 at Longbeech Wood (300.ha), Kent, England (Fuller & Moreton 1987), found that overall bird diversity decreased with coppice age and declined markedly at canopy closure. Warblers, finches and buntings were most abundant in young coppice (0-3 years of growth), whilst thrushes and tits increased in abundance with age since coppicing.Study and other actions tested
A before-and-after study at Minsmere reserve (151 ha), Suffolk, UK, in 1978-1988 (Burgess et al. 1990), found that the local population of European nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus increased following a series of management interventions, including the coppicing of some birch trees. This study is discussed in detail in ‘Clear or open patches in forests’.Study and other actions tested