An old tree with young coppice growth

Have you ever cut down a tree just to have it grow back, even multiply? Well, you may just be that trees best friend. Coppicing is a method of tree management based on the regeneration of new shoots, or suckers, of wood when a tree is cut to the ground.

Coppicing dates back as far as 1251 and was widely used in the 18th and 19th century to produce wood for industrial charcoal for ironworkers. Extensive woodlands, often a single species, are grown and managed specifically for the production of new wood. When a tree is cut to the ground it creates a stump, or stool, from which dormant buds come to life to form new growth, multiplying in the number of stems. Wooded areas are broken up into sections, or coupes, and cut down in rotations anywhere between 10 to 25 years. Because coppicing keeps a tree in a juvenile state, cutting may actually help it live a much longer life. It may never die from old age.

Today, coppicing is used for timber production, firewood, furniture, traditional and woven fencing, tool handles, brooms, bean poles, baskets and young leaf growth for feeding livestock. The next time you notice that tree you cut down start to grow back stronger than ever don’t let it get you down, use it to your benefit.

-Joe Shafner