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. Coppicing maintains a mosaic of woodland areas with differing amounts of daylight reaching the forest floor and, therefore, promotes a variety of ground vegetation conditions. This may benefit reptiles that require either open canopy woodland or a mix of open and more closed woodland in close proximity. Coppicing has declined over the last century and some former coppice woodlands are no longer actively managed.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, site comparison study (year not provided) in two sites of temperate broadleaf woodland on the border of Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire, UK (Fish 2015) found that in coppiced areas of a woodland no slow worms Anguis fragilis or common lizards Zootoca vivipara were found, whereas both species were found in open areas maintained by cutting. No slow worms or common lizards were found in either recently coppiced sites (2–6 years previously) or older coppiced sites (9–17 years old), whereas 41 common lizards and 102 slow worms were found in open areas maintained by cutting. In each of two areas of woodland, three sites of recently coppiced woodland (2–6 years old), three sites of older coppice (9–17 years old) and three open areas were selected (one of the open areas was selected two weeks after surveys began). All coppiced areas were dominated by small-leaved lime trees Tilia cordata. At each survey site, 20 coverboards (50 x 50 cm; 10 made of roofing felt, 10 made of corrugated bitumen) were arranged in a grid, with 5 m gaps between boards. Coverboards were left for one week, and then checked for reptiles on 3–6 days/week for eight weeks.Study and other actions tested