1.03.01 - Traditional coppice: ecology, silviculture and socioeconomic aspects
The principle of coppicing is the ability of many woody plants (trees and shrubs) to regrow from cut or damaged stems or roots. Since prehistoric times, man has taken advantage of this characteristic to utilise woodlands and their products. In many regions, different and elaborate forms of coppice management have evolved over centuries, designed to produce specific resources from coppice systems of selected species cut on strict rotation cycles.
This Working Party addresses all aspects related to this specific management of coppice, including ecology, silviculture, management, utilization, landscape, ecosystem services, supply chain development, greening traditional value chains and further socio-economic issues. It aims to identify common principles and analyse specific regional differences of coppice regimes and to derive strategies for the future sustainable management of this type of forest.
There is a separate IUFRO Working Party for industrial shortrotation coppice plantations (1.03.00 Short-rotation forestry), with which cooperation will be established.
The term "coppice" has multiple meanings, including: a type of forest consisting of trees that are periodically cut; the multistemmed trees that occur in such forests; the process of felling (i.e. coppicing) the trees; and the production of new shoots by recently-cut stools. Historically, coppice delivered a large variety of valuable products, including poles, bark and fuelwood, as well as NTFP such as fodder, mushrooms and berries. The frequent "disturbances" caused by the very specific harvesting regime of coppice forests (typically small clearcuts) result in a unique ecology and biodiversity.
'Traditional' coppice management declined in many regions during the Industrial Revolution as other fuels became available; since then many coppices have been abandoned or converted to high forest, plantations or other land uses. There is, however, currently a resurgence of interest in coppicing in terms of production, either as fuel wood or manufactured products, as well as for ecological and cultural services. Coppice has been rediscovered because of its adaptive ecology, its stability and multiple benefits, notably its protection function, contribution to biodiversity and as a source of renewable bioenergy. Coppicing could also be one option to increase the resilience of forests in the context of climate change. Furthermore, traditional coppice management should also be seen in the context of forest dependent people. It is often combined with special ownership and user rights regimes (e. g. commons), which may be of interest for small forest owner governance.
While science and practice has focussed on high forest and their management in past decades, coppice has received little attention. The Working Party aim to fill this gap by bringing together international experts and stakeholders in order to exchange knowledge on coppice forestry and to start developing innovative management and utilization concepts/techniques for future modern multifunctional coppice management systems.