Willow Carr Coppice Overview

Wednesday, November 7th 2018

Over the last month I have been refering to Coupe 5 of the Willow Carr without properly defining what, where and how we manage it as part of our biennial coppicing and pollarding work.

Firstly, what is Willow Carr? Carr, or kjarr, is an old Norse word for swamp and is defined as being a waterlogged wooded terrain with the potential to develop into a climax woodland via succession. The Willow Carr here at Foxglove is the largest such area in Swaledale and is managed so as to prevent succession towards Birch and then Oak woodland by removal of scrub and through the process of coppicing and pollarding. For more information regarding coppicing and pollarding see our previous blogs!

Coppice woodlands, referred to as a copse, are split up into areas called coupes which are cut on rotation creating a mosaic of different woodland ages structures that can support a diverse array of species.

This winter's activities are centred about Coupe 5 (shown below in orange), stretching from just south of the Field Centre all the way up to the west of the single Heath paddock; an area of around 2.8 acres of mostly overstood and Birch dominated Willow Carr.

We're now almost one month into activities in Coupe 5, having cleared the majority of Birch and thinned most of the Hawthorn within the area shown in green hash below. 

Within the area there is still a lot of work to be done coppicing and pollarding Willow, a task which is likely to take some time as we are having to take a tree by tree approach to managing the Willow stools so as to maximise the amount of viable Willow to coppice and pollard in the future.

One way in which we will achieve this is by 'layering'. The principal behind layering is that when you 'wound' certain species, nature responds by exaggerated regeneration. If a sapling is both wounded and then bent horizontally, the regeneration takes the form of dozens of fast-growing vertical shoots, which will provide a rich source of timber over a cycle of about 10 years.

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