Reforesting Scotland has had a close connection to coppice and coppicing right from the beginning. While coppicing in Scotland might not be very active at the moment, it has had its moments in the distant past. South of the border it is making headway again as people once again look to local and sustainable products and become more aware of where things come from and the impact of their spending.
So, it seemed like the time was right to start talking about coppice in Scotland again.
Back in 2018 we created a Facebook group for coppicing in Scotland to kickstart the discussions. RS had already attempted to get people chatting on the web forums, which had a coppice section, but web forums seem to have had their day, unfortunately. 3 years later and the Facebook group has over 900 members and an active chat about all things coppice ranging from discussion on the best woodfuel coppice varieties to where to get beanpoles locally.
As the interest grew it made sense to make the next step and become a proper group, affiliated to the National Coppice Federation (NCFed). Affiliation with NCFed brings us the benefits of their network of groups around the UK, such as gatherings and courses, as well as supporting their excellent work as a voice for all things coppice in the 21st century. We’re still an informal group, nested within Reforesting Scotland and plan to keep it this way for now. It costs £3 to join the network for the year and you can sign up here. You don’t have to be a RS member.
A future for coppice in Scotland
To kick things off we had a Zoom meeting in June to hear from members what they wanted from the network as well as hearing their experience of coppice to date. It was really positive to see that there are already a range of skilled coppice workers in Scotland, who coppice as part of their job or as a sideline. There were also others coming from a different angle integrating coppice into new woodlands on crofts and private woodlands.
From the meeting, and discussions on the Facebook group, our priorities for the next few years are:
- Organise a coppice gathering in Scotland
- Promote coppice and help to create more coppice woodlands in Scotland
- Actively look for neglected coppice to bring it back into management
- Run courses and volunteer days for those wishing to learn coppice skills
- Discuss and promote coppice products in a Scottish context and demonstrate the practical side of this
- Discuss how coppice can be better integrated and promoted in woodland planting grant schemes
The first ever Scottish Coppice Gathering will be held over the weekend of 19-21 November 2021 at West Edge, Leckmelm, near Ullapool. As the first gathering it will be informal and focused on getting together, exchanging ideas and building the network. West Edge has a variety of coppice projects for us to see and get involved in and over the few days we hope to visit some sites to look at how to bring a young woodland into coppice production, visit an overstood coppice that is being restored, chat about coppice products, charcoal, tools, sharpening and learn some new skills.
The details of the event are still being finalised and a registration form will be sent to all network members when booking is available.
RS Gathering Workshop
At the RS gathering in Speyside we held a workshop discussion to gather ideas for the coppice network. A small group of us brainstormed lots of different ideas to take to the other network members and pursue.
Here were some of them:
Skills Development / Courses
- Cutting & Protection
- Planting new coppice
- Making products
- Charcoal/biochar making
- Business planning & marketing
- Create YouTube channel to share skills
- Create our own coppice woodland on SF / private site. Look for suitable sites.
- Encourage coppice expansion
- Encourage other organisations to promote coppice
Studies / Desktop Work
- Link with university for study work
- Study of existing coppice in Scotland
- Carbon sequestration for coppice
- Link to Scottish Forestry, Woodland Trust and other organisations
- Study Tour
Events and other points noted
- Beanpole week event
- Deer impact issue
- Need to grow more local hazel
- Look at funding for some of these items
We’re really excited at what the future holds for this project and welcome input from other members to help shape and direct the project.
If you would like to join the network, then click here to go to the project page and register.