Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management where trees are chopped down near to their base to allow for new growth. This means that more light can reach the woodland floor, which results in richer wildlife - bluebells, other wildflowers like wood anemones and wood violets, and butterflies all flourish in coppice woodlands. The art of coppicing has more or less disappeared from our woodlands and woodland wildlife has declined markedly as a consequence.
Because of this loss, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has reinvigorated coppicing at some of our woodland nature reserves; Sprotborough Gorge and Hetchell Wood near Leeds being two examples. When woodlands are first coppiced it can look a little shocking, as dozens of large trees are felled at once and the amount of brash (woodland thinnings) can seem untidy. This brash rots down pretty quickly, however, and provides habitat for dead wood insects in the process.
For more information, Reserves Officer Jim Horsfall has written a blog about woodland management at our reserves.