Maintenance and management of coppice forests

Maintenance and management of coppice forests
Coppice forests are particularly species-rich habitats. © Gerhard Elsner

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Forestry, Nature protection

Affected habitats

Forest

Description

Coppice forests are particularly species-rich habitats and make a contribution to the preservation of cultural and historical diversity. Newly coppiced areas of woodland are sunny spaces which are notable for their diverse habitat mosaic in a relatively small space. They thus contain important habitats for many species of flora and insects, as well as the Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis) and Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis), and provide substitute habitats for the Hazel Grouse (Bonasa bonasia). Regular cutting on 3- to a maximum of 40-year-old rotation areas can improve the species inventory by promoting structural diversity and, in intensively used farmland, can serve as a stepping stone in the biotope network. Oak, birch, hornbeam, sycamore, black locust, sweet chestnut and black alder are the main species of tree found at colline to sub-montane altitudes. Coppice forests also play a major role in river-related ecosystems (e.g. grey alder coppice forests) and are particularly important elements of a biotope network here.

Impact

Impact in particular on Small mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Insects
Ecological impact  
Improvement or preservation of habitats Coppice forests are important habitats for many rare species of flora and fauna, including Hazel Grouse and especially thermophilous (warmth-loving) species.
Element of ecological network Use of coppice stands along linear structures (paths, roads, embankments) can form elements of a biotope network.
Time of realisation for measure Years: Relatively swift impact can be expected from the management of existing coppices; where new coppice forests are created, the related structures develop with increasing age of the stand.
Impact scope Local (municipality): By linking measures to wider biotope network planning (e.g. connectivity with fallow land with bushes, and with hedges, oligotrophic grasslands, edges etc.), the impact can be increased.

Implementation

Implementation period Weeks: Relevant measures can be implemented fairly swiftly.
Frequency Recurring: The typical structure is a result of regular use.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Low (1'000-10'000 EUR): If wood from coppice forests is used for energy purposes, profits outweigh the costs of the relevant measures.
Socio-economic impacts Low: Coppice forests can be used as renewable energy sources with corresponding economic value-added.
Sources of financing Private sponsor, Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation Measures for the maintenance of coppice forest may be eligible for funding within the framework of contractual nature conservation programmes in the forestry sector (e.g. "Nature Conservation in Forests" programme in Switzerland).

Further information

Evaluation There are some examples of the integration of coppice forests into biotope networks. Various current research projects are under way to explore the potential for energy use of coppice forest stands.
Information Other: Project examples, e.g. at http://rohrhardsberg-life.de/artikel/niederwaelder or: http://www.baselland.ch/naturschutz_wald-htm.310132.0.html

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