Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group

13-10-12 : Coppicing and Rhododendron stump bashing in the Kingston Hill woodland!

A team of students and local residents joined forces this weekend to tackle some woodland management tasks at Kingston Hill. With the aid of TCV we coppiced Hazel, dug out Rhododendron stumps and cleared away bramble ready for some new under-story planting....


    verb /ˈkäpəs/ 

      1. Cut back (a tree or shrub) to ground level periodically to stimulate growth.

    Our woodland at Kingston Hill contains a number of Hazel coppice stands. Traditionally they would be cut back to ground level periodically so that the timber could be used for things like making furniture, weaving fences or making charcoal. If managed properly, coppice woodlands can be a great source of sustainable timber.

    We are going to coppice our Hazel stands so that we can encourage more ground flora by increasing light levels in the woodland, encourage new growth of the Hazel which will hopefully mean lots more food for our woodland's small mammals, and create bundles of material that we can use for tree stakes or bean poles in the community gardens (And if you have any other ideas, let us know!)

In total, we coppiced 30% of the Hazel in the south eastern corner of the woodland. In a few years time, we will return to coppice another 30%. By making sure that we do coppicing in cycles, we should avoid harm to any birds or small mammals that rely on it!

One of our Hazel stands before coppicing...
... And after!
Once the Hazel was coppiced, we chopped it up into usable material...
    Another important task of the day was to clear some space for new Hazel planting which we will do in February. Bramble was cleared, and the roots dug up to leave 5 new plots ready for some new Hazel plants which can be coppiced in the future. 

Clearing a patch of Bramble for new under-story planting.

The final job of the day was to tackle the Rhododendron ponticum stumps that we causing something of a trip hazard in the woodland, as well as making their best effort to regrow (which we don't want to see happen!).

Mattocks and pruning saws in hand, the volunteers got really stuck in and in total we must have pulled put around 10 stubborn Rhody roots!

....and after!
We even took on a huge Laurel stump, which proved to be even tougher than the Rhododendron roots.

At the end of the day, we were all agreed that there is nothing quite as satisfying as the crunch of Rhododendron roots as you chop them out of the ground!

I hope that you can join us in the woodland for some more conservation tasks: In November we will be bashing Rhododendron, and in February we will be returning to plant Hazel. Join the mailing list to find out more.

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