Traditional Woodland Management
Most ancient woodland in the UK has been managed in some way by humans for hundreds (in some cases thousands) of years. Two traditional techniques are coppicing (cutting at ground level to encourage new shoots to grow) and pollarding (harvesting wood at about human head height to prevent new shoots being eaten by grazing species such as deer). Both techniques encourage new growth whilst allowing the sustainable production of timber and other woodland produce.Traditional woodland crafts are still kept alive today by a variety of craftsmen with an interest in preserving old knowledge, tools and ways of life. Products of woodlands can range from charcoal and firewood to spoons, bowls, hurdles, baskets and timber buildings.
Management of Zebon Copse Today
Zebon Copse Local Nature Reserve is managed for both people and wildlife, offering people special opportunities to study or learn about nature or simply to enjoy it.
The woodland is managed with biodiversity (the variety of life) in mind, rather than produce. However, modern woodland management techniques often still mimic the traditional methods, due to the significant benefits for wildlife. Regular tasks to maintain and improve biodiversity at Zebon Copse include:
When an area of coppice is first cut, there can be an explosion of plant life from the seed bank as the soil is warmed and the seeds are stimulated by the sunlight. The caterpillars of many different types of butterfly feed on flowers or herbs which occur in more open sunny areas (glades) of woodlands, such as those created by coppicing.
Thinning of the thick under-storey of plants such as holly also helps to allow light to penetrate the soil to encourage woodland wildflowers. This is done on a rotational basis, while some areas are cleared, we always ensure that other areas are left to grow, to provide plenty of food and shelter for animals.
Keeping the mire open
The willow that grows in the wet mire is cut in rotation annually to conserve this ecologically important and nationally rare habitat which is so important for a wide range of plants and animals.
Standing and fallen dead wood is often left as habitat for invertebrates, which are a major part of a woodland food chain, providing food for birds, mammals and amphibians.