An area of Coppiced Hornbeams and some Silver Birch
Directly in front of the QR post is a large coppiced Hornbeam. The trunk consists of three large sections and would have been coppice approximately 70-80 years ago and not touched since that time.
Coppicing is a woodland management method in which the wood from a tree is harvested by cutting a suitable tree near ground level. It subsequently re-grows over a period of years without needing to be replanted. This technique is different from pollarding, in which branches are cut at, or above, head height, leaving the possibility of grazing underneath the growing branches.
Coppicing is done on rotation: small areas of a woodland are cut each year in sequence leaving the areas not being cut to grow on for between 15 and 20 years for chestnut, and about 7 years for hazel. When an area of coppice is cut, it is all cut down, and creates a clearing. This periodic coppicing encourages the individual trees to live for up to hundreds of years. If the coppice cycle is managed correctly it can increase bio-diversity in the woodland because of the beneficial effects of varying light levels reaching the woodland floor, and the range of different aged trees and stools in the woodland.
There are many other examples of ancient coppiced and pollarded Hornbeams located in Birchanger Woods, see if you can identify them.
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