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Managing woodland for birds

100 metres

Figure 12 Design of coppice rotation to suit a broad range of early succession birds.

that will benefit a broader range of species at the same time.

Issue: management of grazing and browsing. Grazing by livestock and deer can lead to removal of woody stems and so inhibit coppice regeneration.


  • Limit grazing and browsing, although very light levels of browsing can be beneficial and have minimal impact (see Managing grazing and browsing).

  • Culling of deer and goats, and rabbit and squirrel control may all have to be considered as part of the management of such areas.

Issue: lack of abundance/variety of deadwood; as coupes are cleared at a maximum of 10 to 15 years, there is little opportunity for deadwood to accumulate in any form, particularly as standing deadwood.


  • Leave a small amount of brash but not enough to suppress the ground flora or restrict operational practices.

  • Create discrete piles between stools, allow them to rot down instead of being burnt.

  • Provide standing deadwood by killing occasional stems or stools of old coppice, which co-incidentally will produce small canopy gaps. Ancient stools provide decayed wood habitat and cavities for nesting, eg willow tit.

  • Leave existing standards to age, unless they are overcrowded when they should be thinned or killed standing, taking those with the least value as mature feature trees.

Issue: standard management. Generally, the canopy of standard trees should cover less than 25% of the area if shading is not to become an issue.


  • Develop small pockets of more mature woodland within extensive areas of coppice, to provide features for high forest birds that do not associate with the coppice cycle. This would be preferable to a high density of standards.

  • Leave standard trees to senility wherever possible ie where there is no public risk. These provide holes and deadwood niches.


Plate 8 Old coppice quickly loses structure and its value for birds is reduced.

Forestry Commission Picture Library/Isobel Cameron

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