Stories from the great outdoors

Matthew Bevan, Ranger Matthew Bevan Ranger
Before Coppicing Ickworth

In the winter months you will often find the Ranger team out in some part of the 600 acres of Woodland at Ickworth, and this year we have been in Lownde Wood continuing with our coppicing work.

Coppicing is an ancient woodland process, that involves repetitive felling on the same stump, near to ground level, and allowing the shoots to regrow from that main stump.

At Ickworth, we have Hazel trees which need coppicing as part of our long term woodland management plan.

In the past, each coppice area would have been cut on a rotation from 5- 25 years, and would have provided a constant supply of timber to use for firewood, fencing, building, pea sticks and so on.

Nowadays, whilst we still cut areas on a rotation, we do it more for the conservation value it brings; it opens up the woodland floor to allow flowers to flourish, a thicker understorey to develop and new habitats for mammals. We then put the brash into piles and stack any larger bits of wood, providing habitat piles as they rot down.

Coppice Block with Re-growth
After Coppicing Ickworth
Coppice Block with Re-growth

If left on its own the many deer of Ickworth would soon nibble off any new growth, which is why we then fence the area off until it is established enough.

Within this woodland there are also some larger Oak and Ash trees, so we use this opportunity to fell some of these to let more light into the woodland floor, and it means other trees have less competition. We will then use this felled timber to mill into planks and sell at our annual Wood Fair on 7 & 8 October.

Felled Oak for Milling Timber
Oak trees Ickworth
Felled Oak for Milling Timber

Another major task for the Ranger team over the winter is planting more parkland trees. Unlike last year where we were planting in former arable areas to reinstate them as parkland, this year we are planting trees across the estate.

Planting will take place mainly next to mature trees that have died so as to be a direct replacement and we will look to do about 30-40 of these. Over the winter we also go round and check all the other young parkland trees to check they are alive, growing well and adjust, repair or remove any guards on them as necessary.

These main conservation tasks of coppicing, felling, and tree planting will need to be finished by the end of February, so we can start on the next tasks!