Coppicing, or cutting down a tree to produce new growth, has been a way of harvesting wood for thousands of years. Far from being destructive, coppicing has been the reason why many woodlands have survived, because the woodland had an economic value. Coppicing rejuvenates the tree, so some coppice stumps or ‘stools’ are hundreds of years old, and are an important genetic link back to the ancient woodlands. For further details on the history of coppicing see here.
In the past, the rural economy was based on coppicing, and coppice products were used for building, fencing, fuel, furniture and many other uses. Nothing was wasted. Many of these traditional products are still needed, and new products and markets have been developed.
Coppicing requires only simple hand tools and produces material which can be manually handled, the reason for its importance in the past and its relevance today. Felling and extraction is much less hazardous than with other methods of harvesting wood.