The whole reason why we do what we do is to ensure the future of our woodland. Our patch of paradise is classed as Ancient Semi Natural Woodland which means by definition it has been under continuous tree cover since 16th Century. We believe that our woodland dates back much longer than that but it is difficult to prove. One thing we do know is from the amount of ancient woodland indicator species we have within the woodland it is very , very old!
Although the woodland is old it has also been worked and managed for centuries. Coppicing is the oldest form of woodland management and is the process of cutting a given area , allowing the trees to regrow and then re cutting after a given number of years. The time between cutting depended very much on the species and the end use of the poles that were being cut, hazel for example would be cut every 10-12 years , Alder could be much longer again depending on the end use.
This cycle of cutting, re growing and then cutting leads to a build up of unique and precious flaura and fauna which is bespoke to a coppice woodland.
All of our efforts over the last 11 years has gone into bringing this coppice cycle back, after a gap of over 80 years. The way the woodland has responded is wonderful, the biodiversity increases every year. the woodland flowers coming back stronger and stronger, the associated wildlife also comes back, from the smallest insect all the way to the wonderful if destructive deer population. The deer are attracted by the lush regrowth in the coppice, a bit like me in a cake shop!
The workover the last 11 years has been hard, at times costly but you can really see the improvements and I get inspired every time I set foot in there. This last winter we re-cut the first area which we did 10 years ago, this coming winter we will be re-cutting the second area and so on until its time for us to stop!
Hopefully when we reach the point where we have to hand the wood on to the next generation the neglect that the woodland suffered for so long will have completely healed but in the meantime we will enjoy every second we spend in there