How to Coppice Trees for Sustainable Firewood

You can grow firewood in a fraction of the time it takes to raise a tree from seed.

February / March 2018
By Brett McLeod

 yellow tree

Illustration courtesy Keith Ward

Of all the forestry techniques available to woodland owners, few methods are as underutilized as coppicing. Coppicing is a reproduction method wherein a tree is cut back periodically to stimulate new growth through dormant buds on the living stump, or “stool.” In turn, these buds develop into sprouts, also called “shoots,” capable of growing firewood in approximately half the time it would take to grow the same amount of wood from seed.

Coppicing as a management technique dates back to the Neolithic period, when people used coppice wood for a variety of purposes, ranging from beanpoles and lath to firewood and fence posts. Even into the 16th century, the economic importance of wood obtained through coppicing was so significant in England that King Henry VIII mandated the construction of fences around coppice forests throughout the country to protect them from browsing animals.

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