National Beanpole Week highlights the plight of coppiced British woodland and gardeners are being urged to purchase coppiced beanpoles, sourced from local forests, to help protect birds such as the nightingale.Bringing coppiced woodlands back to our countryside will help threatened birds including nightingales and willow warblers, according to the RSPB.
Coppicing is the craft of carefully cutting trees to ground level and managing the new shoots to a usable size before cutting again.
When you buy beanpoles and pea sticks from your local coppice worker you are also helping to manage a valuable woodland habitat for some of our favourite woodland bird species.
Richard Thomason, Small Woods Association
This practice produces long straight stems,with few or no side branches, ideal for use in the garden as plant supports.
Coppiced timber is also used to produce hedge stakes and binders, baskets, walking sticks, ties for fastening thatch pegs and charcoal.
Events are being organised across the country by the Small Woods Association to highlight the plight of traditional coppiced woodlands which have declined by 90% in the past century.
Richard Thomason, from the Small Woods Association, said: “In this age of economic crisis, it shouldn’t be forgotten that you’ll also be supporting rural jobs when you switch to British coppiced beanpoles. Our coppiced woodlands provide employment for over 500 coppice workers, including many apprentices,” he added. “you are also helping to manage a valuable woodland habitat for some of our favourite woodland bird species.”
Nigel Symes, RSPB woodland advisor, said: “Coppiced woodland is great for birds, and other wildlife, and a lot of the species which benefit from it are in trouble.
Coppiced beanpoles are harvested in rotation, ensuring a continual supply of eco-friendly wood and creating a rich patchwork habitat for all kinds of animals and plants, from dormice to orchids.
After coppiced trees have been harvested for beanpoles, they regrow for a few years, typically for hazel 8years, before being cut again. This growing and harvesting cycle is ongoing and can continue on the same trees for many hundreds of years. Coppicing usually extends the life of trees, with the oldest woodland trees often being those that have been coppiced
“Coppicing has declined massively since WWII and that has contributed to the fall in populations of wild birds which rely on dense thickety woodland. If you stop managing a woodland then it gradually becomes more sparse and open, which is not suitable for a bird like the nightingale.
National Beanpole Week runs between 23 April-1 May 2011.
Toby Buckland shows how to use coppiced poles in the garden