Hatfield Forest Coppice Volunteers

A protective basket surrounding a freshly cut stump in Elgins Coppice

We have a group of dedicated volunteers who have continued the centuries old tradition of woodland management. Examples of their recent work can be seen in Elgin Coppice, on the left side of road as you drive into the main area of the forest and on the left as you exit the main area.

The Coppice Volunteers

We have a dedicated group of volunteers who have now been at work coppicing for over 40 years, on alternate Saturdays during autumn and winter.  In the 2017/18 season they are working in Elgin Coppice.

The impact of their recent hard work can be readily appreciated in two areas of Elgin Coppice, where two different practices for protecting the new stools can be seen.

Baskets

The group has generally used basket.  After cutting to the base, each coppice stool is surrounded by a protective basket to a height of about 1.5 m, using the cut branches. 

Within three years, new growth can be seen above the baskets.  They start to decay but their job has been done.

new growth poking out the protective basket, 3 years on
new growth poking out above the protective basket
new growth poking out the protective basket, 3 years on

An example of this technique can be seen in Elgins Coppice, on the left of the access road, just after you enter the main area of the forest. 

Dead hedge

In the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons, the group experimented with the alternative technique of dead hedges.

As the trees are chopped down, the whole area is surrounded along the perimeter with a protective dead hedge. A parallel row of poles is driven into the ground and the intervening space filled with cut down branches to a height of about 2m.

The hedge was found to be high maintenance.  Once breached in a single place, the whole of the cut area becomes vulnerable to hungry deer.

An example can be seen in Elgin Coppice, to the north of the exit road, before the cattle grid.

Six years on, the dead hedge is now decaying, its job done.  Vigorous regrowth can be seen through the gaps.

A dead hedge under construction
A dead hedge under construction in Elgins Coppice, Hatfield Forest
A dead hedge under construction

Do you want to help?

If you are interested in helping with this valuable conservation work, please contact the Estate Office (phone: 01279 870678) or send an email.