Our new coppicing plan

The new 10-year Woodland Management plan for Birchanger Wood includes coppicing some key areas to let the light in and increase biodiversity. We have already made a start near our compound, which you may have seen on your walks in the wood. Read on to find out how coppicing works magic in woodlands.

What is coppicing?

Coppicing is where a tree is cut down to its base to create a ‘stool’ from which new shoots will grow. It looks very drastic, but within a year or two the tree will be showing lots of new, strong growth.

Coppicing work under way near our compound, January 2023

In fact, coppicing can actually increase the life span of a tree! Some of the oldest trees in Britain are grown from coppice stools. They can live to an incredible age, like the amazing lime at Westonbirt Arboretum that is thought to be two thousand years old.

Coppicing has been used as a woodland management technique since the Stone Age. Coppicing made sure there was a good steady supply of firewood and timber that could be more easily harvested than felling the whole tree, and this technique would have been used at Birchanger Wood for hundreds of years. Most tree species can be coppiced but it’s especially suitable for hornbeam, which we have lots of at Birchanger, and hazel.

But times have changed – why are we still doing it today?

Coppicing has major benefits for biodiversity. After cutting the trees, light floods the woodland floor allowing smaller plants, such as wildflowers, to thrive. It also means shrubby plants like brambles can grow, which make ideal habitat and provide sources of food for small birds and other animals and insects.

Will you coppice every tree?

No. We have a plan to coppice only certain areas of the woodland (you can read that in full here) and within each area a number of mature trees – also known as ‘standards’ – will be left. Quite a few of these will be oaks. These mature trees provide another vital habitat and it is very important that we look after them, too.

What happens when the coppiced trees grow back?

As the trees regrow, the canopy slowly closes over again, reducing the light that reaches the woodland floor. This takes between five and eight years. Each area will be coppiced roughly every 20-30 years, meaning that the canopy is closed for the majority of the time. We will coppice other areas in ‘rotation’, meaning the wood will have trees at all different ages and stages of growth. This will provide the widest possible range of habitats to support the widest possible range of plants and animals.

What are the piles of dead wood for?

We also leave some piles of cut wood or fallen trees to decay. You may have seen these in the wood. This is not just us being too lazy to tidy up! Lots of species rely on dead wood for food and habitat – including many invertebrates and fungi. It is a vital element of a biodiverse woodland.

how do I get involved?

Birchanger Wood is looked after by a team of volunteers. If you would like to play a part in securing the healthy future of the woodland, please click here and fill in our contact form, or read a bit more about what we do on our Volunteer page here.

Read more about the conservation benefits of coppicing in The Conservation Volunteers’ Conservation Handbook.

New 10 year management plan for Birchanger Wood

The latest 10-year Woodland Management Plan for Birchanger Wood was approved in December 2022. The ambitious and exciting plan sets out how the Trust will work to maintain and enhance the biodiversity of the wood in the coming years, and how it will involve the local community to make sure the woodland remains an accessible natural space for all to enjoy.

The coppicing work recommended in the Plan will help to provide habitat for small woodland birds and mammals by encouraging a ‘shrub layer’ to grow. A shrub layer is made up of younger trees, such as hazel, holly and hawthorn, which is perfect for nesting, feeding and sheltering. As the Plan notes, there is potential to provide much more of this kind of habitat at Birchanger Wood, which could make a real difference to the diversity of species that the wood supports.

Would you like to help us achieve this vision for the future of Birchanger Wood? Our volunteering sessions take place every Saturday, and even if you can only spare an hour or two we would love to hear from you. Birchanger Wood Trust is entirely run by volunteers, and many hands make light work! Please fill in our contact form and we will get back to you.

You can read the full Plan here: Birchanger Wood Management Plan 2022

Log sales suspended until further notice

Update as of 1st January 2023: we have now sold out of seasoned firewood! Our log sales are now suspended until further notice. We hope to start selling again in autumn / winter 2023, once our newer stores have fully seasoned.

Our thanks to all of our customers this year. Log sales are a really important part of our fundraising and all the money raised goes into supporting the conservation and restoration of this beautiful woodland.

Don’t forget you can also support us by making a donation to on our website by clicking here.

Log sales: December 24th and 31st 2022

We will be open from 8.30am-9.30am on Saturday 24th December and Saturday 31st December, with no afternoon sales.

Due to high demand, our stock of seasoned, dry firewood is very low – the picture above was taken in the summer and that bay is now completely empty.

We are still only charging £13 per wheelbarrow full, available from our compound next to the water tower on Heath Row in Bishop’s Stortford. Click here to see a map of how to find us. Cash only. We are happy to help you get the logs into your car.

Please check back on our website or our Facebook page for updates on details of our log sales for 2023.

Thank you for everyone that has bought logs from us this year. The money we raise from these goes straight back to preserving and enhancing this beautiful woodland.

Don’t forget we are always keen to recruit new volunteers, you don’t have to be super fit and you don’t have to commit to every session! If you would like to find out more, please come along to our compound on a Saturday morning at around 10am. We’re here every week.