Coppicing

(See also Stott Park Bobbin Mill)

Coppicing courtesy Ann BowkerCoppicing is a process used to ensure a continuous supply of wood. It dates back to Neolithic times and was practiced in many areas of the country. In the 18th and 19th centuries, coppicing provided industrial charcoal for iron smelting. In Cumbria, this method of maintaining woodland was used to supply wood for the bobbin mills.

When a tree was cut down, sprouts arose from the stump. When these sprouts were allowed to grow, they developed into the right size of timber for cutting and transporting using the labour intensive methods and the tools of past centuries.

Coppicing courtesy Ann BowkerAsh, hazel, oak, sweet chestnut, birch, beech, poplar, and lime trees all grow these shoots. Oak, ash, and birch are coppiced today in Cumbria. Most conifers don't produce shoots. The number of shoots each stump produces depends on the species, its age, and its size. Up to 150 can be produced in the first year. For example oak produces between two and four tons of wood per 2.5 acres, per year, over a 30 year rotation.

Wood is generally cut during the winter months, as the shoots are hardier at this time. New growth may need protection from deer and rabbits.

Photos courtesy of Ann Bowker

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