RELEASE October 2, 2000
If woodland owners could be sure of making more than £900 an acre for standing hazel coppice, this would surely act as a real incentive to bring some of the thousands of acres of derelict hazel woodland in the south of England back into rotation.
But these sort of sums have been proved to be achievable, and landowners who were invited to an estate near Basingstoke for a guided tour of these managed woodlands recently, were shown just how this could be done.
The visit was organised by the Wessex Coppice Group, the Winchester-based marketing organisation for the hazel coppice industry which was launched in 1985 in Hampshire and has since expanded to offer its services to the industry nation wide.
The woodlands totalled some 150 hectares (375 acres). Of this, there are some 16 hectares of either pure hazel or hazel as coppice with standards. Six hectares is classified as Grade 1 coppice, and the group of around 15 woodland owners were shown two, three, four and five-year old coppice in rotation at this grade.
0.4 ha (one acre) of this coppice was sold at auction in 1998 for £900.
Accompanying the group on the tour of the woodlands were forester Martin Giles, of Wessex Woodland Management, Jonathan Howe, a woodland consultant and Linda Glynn, Business Development Manager for the Wessex Coppice Group.
In order to achieve the Grade 1 quality, Jonathan Howe emphasised three important points. Shade from standards should be kept to a minimum, maximum density should be aimed for and the young shoots should be protected from vermin, especially deer.
Martin Giles explained that he was still experimenting with temporary types of deer fencing. He had found that it was only necessary to fence off the coppice during the first year after cutting, and the fencing could then be moved to a new area.
Visitors were also shown a 0.8 ha (2 acre) area with a very sparse density of stools, which was being restored by layering, planting and temporary fencing with grant aid from Hampshire County Council.
Linda Glynn says that although woodland owners are well aware of the conservation benefits of coppicing, which provides a rotation of light and shade essential to the survival of many woodland flora and fauna, it is only recently that they are becoming more aware of the economic viability of this form of woodland management.