Roe Deer numbers are at their highest level in the Country for at least 1,000 years. Until about 20 years ago they hadn’t been seen in the upper valley for centuries and at one time were nearly extinct in England.
Their present numbers make the practice of coppicing a difficult activity when all regrowth is constantly nibbled back. Piling brash on cut stumps does help to a certain extent but not for long.
Fencing an area of land is expensive and time consuming; it is also ineffective as the Deer always find a way in. Of course when they are in it is almost impossible to get them out! In effect you are creating a perfect inclosure where deer can happily browse.
So how to manage woodlands when thinning out the trees and expecting them to coppice is a frustrating failure?
Pollarding could be done as it is a practice that goes back into the mists of time and probably predates coppicing.
It has the advantage of being better for wildlife and all regrowth is above the browsing height of deer. The trunk increases in girth each year, providing many vertical habitats for wildlife not available on coppice. The cycle of cutting regrowth from the bolling opens up the woodland floor to sunlight, benefitting flowers and butterflies.
One has to query why it is totally out of fashion. There is a lot of misunderstanding of the practice but it could be part of any woodland management plan.
By cutting a pollard Oak the sapwood is rejuvenated and dormant adventitious buds are stimulated into growth.
Second photo showing Hawthorn hedge just layed and since then all the thorny brash has been piled alongside to keep the Deer from browsing new growth.
Recently cut pollards first done about 30 years ago and now in their 3rd cycle