This is a handbook of woodland management, designed for use by conservation volunteers and others interested in the management of traditional British woodlands, the creation of new woods and the management of associated habitats.
The natural woodland cover of Britain was already mainly cleared for agriculture 1,000 years ago, as recorded in the Domesday Book. From prehistoric times, management of woodland was essential to man’s survival, with archaeological evidence showing that Neolithic peoples were skilled in coppicing and using woodland produce.
The wildlife and landscape value of nearly all Britain’s remaining woodlands is dependent on this interaction between people and natural processes. The traditional management of ancient coppiced woodlands, wood pastures and areas such as the New Forest has been vital in creating and maintaining their special qualities.
Many of the traditional skills in coppicing, pollarding, green woodworking and charcoal burning are still relevant today for woodland management, and in recent years there has been an upsurge of interest in these skills both amongst volunteers and professional woodworkers, with new products and markets being developed.
Along with the traditional management of existing woodlands, there is great interest in the planting of new native woodlands, both in rural and urban fringe landscapes. Regeneration of former industrial and other areas through the creation of wooded landscapes are focussed in the National Forest and the Community Forests in England, with similar regeneration schemes elsewhere in the UK. The benefits of trees and woodlands on the health and well-being of local communities are widely recognised.
The Woodlands handbook was first published in 1980, revised in 1988, and has now been revised again to provide information on traditional woodland management skills that is relevant for today’s use. The handbook is one of a series of ten handbooks on practical conservation published by The Conservation Volunteers.