Oak Coppice

Before regular woodland management for timber began in Germany many woods were coppiced. In coppiced woodland the trees are cut near to ground level at regular intervals and the trees sprout again from the tree stumps or roots. Forest managed like this will not exceed a certain age and will always remain as a young forest. In the nature reserve Hedeby and Danevirke the oak coppices are particularly spectacular. Coppices, called “Krattwald” in Northern Germany, are relatively open woods with a rich herbaceous layer growing on nutrient poor soils. They were used originally to produce oak bark for tanning hides. Acorns found in the forest provided a rich food supply for domestic pigs. As this kind of management did not produce sturdy timber, the cycle between cropping was relatively short and did not exceed 15 to 20 years. Typical oak coppice stands are characterised by a special micro-climate. They provide a unique and valuable habitat especially for thermophile animal and plant species. The best way to maintain woodland types such as coppice, which are the product of historical practices, is to imitate the traditional methods.