Individual study: effect of varying coppice height on tree survival and ground flora in Brasenose Wood, Oxfordshire, UK.
Coppicing is a commonly used management intervention to increase structural diversity in woodlands, but coppiced trees are vulnerable to browsing by deer. We investigated the effect of coppicing hazel stools at different heights on the survival of trees, and also the species richness of the ground flora. Plots were cut at experimental heights of 0.7 m and 0.8 m, with plots cut at 1.2 m and ground level as controls. All the stools cut at 1.2 m were alive five years after cutting. In the plots cut at 0.7 and 0.8 m, some shoots were eaten by deer but less than 10% of stools died. Less than 5% of stools in the plot cut at ground level survived. After 7-8 years, coppicing at 0.7 m and 0.8 m supported a higher species richness of angiosperm ground flora than either of the control heights. We conclude that high-level coppicing offers a cost-effective opportunity to achieve a rotation frequency that increases tree survival and supports a diverse coppice-woodland angiosperm flora.