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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Coppice trees Bird Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • 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.


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.



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.



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’.


Referenced papers

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. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.