Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Coppice trees

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • Of three studies, one, a before-and-after study in the UK found that a population of European nightjars increased following a series of management interventions, including the coppicing of some birch trees.
  • Two before-and-after studies from the UK and the USA found that the use of coppices by some bird species declined over time. The UK study also found that overall species richness decreased with age, but that some species were more abundant in older stands.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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