Traditional coppicing is a boost to bird species

Bringing coppiced woodlands back to our countryside will help threatened birds including nightingales and willow warblers.

That’s the message from the RSPB which is supporting National Beanpole Week (21 – 29 April 2012). 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 per cent in the past century.

Coppicing hazel in East of England (SWA library)
Coppicing hazel in East of England (SWA library)

Gardeners are being urged to show their support by buying British coppiced beanpoles to support their beans, peas and other plants.Richard Thomason, from the Small Woods Association, said: “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.”  Coppicing provides benefits for native woodlands and creates habitats for woodlands birds like garden warblers, nightingales, willow warblers and marsh tits. 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.

“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.“However there has been a recent resurgence in people managing small woods to provide coppice wood products, ranging from beanpoles to fuel. Lending your support to National Beanpole Week means you are doing your bit for some of our most threatened wild birds.”

The National Beanpole campaign, 21 April – 29 April 2012, helps raise awareness for the need to restore coppiced woodlands and encourages gardeners to support their local coppice woodlands and workers by buying hazel beanpoles instead of imported bamboo canes.

For further information on National Beanpole week and coppice products visit, or telephone the Small Woods Association on 01952 432769

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 birds to dormice to orchids.

Logo: Small Woods Association

After coppiced trees have been harvested for beanpoles, they regrow before being cut again. This growing and harvesting cycle is ongoing and can continue on the same trees for many hundreds of years. Coppicing can extend the life of trees, with the oldest woodland trees often being those that have been coppiced.

With thanks to RSPB and Small Woods Association

First published in CJS Focus on Trees and Hedges in association with The Tree Council, for National Tree Week on 21 November 2011