Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management in which young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge, and, after a number of years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again.
Coppice management (Stævningsskov) was one of the earliest forms of woodland management in Denmark, traceable back to Stone Age. In the Middle Ages the lord of the manor had the right to the upper sections of the wood, while the peasant had to be content with the lower sections. The coppicing was a smart solution to the peasants, since this forest type never developed into tall trees; if it was cut regularly they could keep their right to use the wood. They used it for fences, fuel, posts, poles etc. To avoid the trees from growing up the wood has to be cut every 15-20 years.
Coppice management favours a range of wildlife, often of species adapted to open woodland. After cutting, the increased light allows existing woodland-floor vegetation such as bluebell, anemone and primrose to grow vigorously. Often brambles grow around the stools, encouraging insects, or various small mammals that can use the brambles as protection from larger predators. Woodpiles (if left in the coppice) encourage insects such as beetles to come into an area. The open area is then colonised by many animals such as nightingale, nightjar and fritillary butterflies. As the coup grows, the canopy closes and it becomes unsuitable for these animals again – but in an actively managed coppice there is always another recently cut coup nearby, and the populations therefore move around, following the coppice management.
Queen of Spain Fritillary/ Storplettet perlemorsommerfugl
photo 2. August 2008 and 31. October 2009: grethe bachmann