Park Wood was intensively coppiced for about 600 years until roughly 70 years ago. There are many signs of the historical coppicing in the wood, such as three hazel trunks growing from one base, seen in the picture.
For the last 70 years the wood has been left to its own devices. The wood consists mainly of oak trees with an understory of hazel. However, after 70 years of no coppicing, the hazel is dying due to insufficient light. This will seriously affect many of the woodland animals currently living there which depend on the hazel nuts, such as the dormice.
Park Wood is now undergoing traditional coppicing again, which can be seen by areas (coups) of felled trees and areas of tree planting. The coppicing will be performed in each coup on a rotation basis every 10 or 18 years (depending on the area of the wood). Small areas will be cleared to form glades where wild flowers will grow and a third of the woodland will be allowed to stay untouched.
A survey of the wild flowers is being undertaken each year, including before the coppicing started. This will measure the impact of coppicing on the growth of wild flowers. Dormice are also being monitored to assess the impact on their numbers.
Volunteers are relied upon to do important coppice restoration work. Come and volunteer at one of the coppice sessions run by The Stick Smith.
Immediately above the Lime Kilns you can see a coup which was coppiced and then re-planted with Hazel in 2010. Since it was coppiced, this area is particularly abundant with wild flowers during the spring and the strong Hazel growth can be seen.
Up the hill, over the footpath there is a coup which was coppiced in 2011. Further up the hill towards the centre of the wood a newly coppiced area can be seen. The area still looks bare with the newly planted hazel trees forlorn in their protective jackets but within a year the area will be growing away vigorously. Within 6 months strong regrowth will be seen at the stumps of the hazel trees.
Various trees have been allowed to remain in the coppiced areas. These have been chosen with care to ensure there is a range of trees of different ages. Also, certain trees have been kept because they have cracks in them which the bats like. One oak tree's trunk has been allowed to remain because of a wood pecker's hole, although the hole seems to be used by bees now.