National Bean Pole Week celebrates coppice

National Bean Pole Week celebrates coppice

posted by Chris Hastie on Apr 14 2008 07:37

The week, which is being run by the Small Woods Association and supported by the Forestry Commission, will be launched at a free Beanpole Festival at the Green Wood Centre near Ironbridge in Shropshire, on Saturday 19th April between 11am and 4pm. Other special events will be held nationwide.

Coppiced woodland is very important because it is a source of sustainably produced wood and provides a unique and valuable habitat for animals and plants such as dormice, warblers, nightingales, wood violets and primroses. In addition, the production and use of coppiced wood supports hundreds of jobs in the countryside and keeps many ancient skills and traditions alive.

“When we use products made from coppiced wood, such as hazel beanpoles, we help protect the environment, wildlife and our ancient traditions,” said Judy Walker, Executive Director of the Small Woods Association.

People in Britain have been using products made from coppiced wood for thousands of years. However, despite their impressive quality, these products have been largely displaced by alternatives, like imported bamboo beanpoles. As a result, the amount of managed coppiced woodland in Britain has fallen by around 90% during the 20th century, from around 230,000 hectares in 1905 to an estimated 23,000 hectares in 1997.

National Beanpole Week aims to help reverse this drastic decline by increasing the demand for products made from coppiced wood. Organisers are calling on everyone to do their bit to support Britain’s coppiced woodlands by going along to a special Beanpole Week event, or simply by buying hazel beanpoles made from coppiced wood.

“Hazel poles make the best and most handsome beanpoles for any garden or allotment. They are also part of an ancient tradition of sustainable production in coppice woodlands which are one of the great wildlife treasures of Britain. By using hazel beansticks you are buying local, buying sustainable and buying beautiful,” said celebrity gardener Monty Don, in support of National Beanpole Week.

Coppicing is an ancient method of sustainable woodland management. The most commonly coppiced trees are hazel, alder, ash, birch, oak, field maple, hornbeam, small-leaved lime, sweet chestnut, sycamore and wych elm.

Coppiced trees are harvested by having their stems cut down close to ground level. When new shoots emerge, they are allowed to grow for a few years before being harvested again.

This growing and harvesting process is ongoing and can continue on the same tree for many hundreds of years. Coppicing usually extends the growing life of trees - the oldest trees in woodland are often the coppiced ones. Woodland near Westonbirt in Gloucestershire includes a coppiced lime tree which is 48ft in diameter and at least 2000 years old.

To find out more about National Beanpole Week, and discover where you can go to a special event or buy hazel beanpoles and other products made from coppiced wood, visit, e-mail or telephone 01952 432769.

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