Why Coppiced Sweet Chestnut?
Sweet Chestnut is a hardwood naturally resistant to rot and can typically last 20 to 30 years without treatment. It was originally introduced by the Romans to the southern counties of England from its more southernly european origins and later was cultivated in monastery gardens. Then around 250 years ago it was planted over large areas of Kent, Sussex and Surrey and managed to form coppice for the production of hop poles, charcoal and fencing timber.
Coppice woodland is produced by cutting certain species of trees at intervals of 15 to 25 years and then allowing the root stocks to naturally regenerate. The process produces many stems on each root system resulting in a fast growing source of hardwood timber. These root systems or ‘stocks’ can be over two hundred years old (see below).
To maintain the health of a coppiced wood it is very important that the felling process is maintained and that large spaces in the wood are replanted after each cut. In a well managed coppiced wood, areas known as cants are felled in yearly stages to produce varying ages of coppice in the woodland. This produces a great haven for many different types of wildlife.
Coppice woodland is also a naturally sustainable process without the need for pesticides or mechanical replanting. Products are also carbon neutral as the regeneration compensates for the crop that is taken.
During a visit to Sicily we visited the oldest recorded sweet chestnut tree ‘Il Castagno dei Cento Cavelli’ the tree of 100 horses. Many centuries ago during a thunder storm the tree reportedly sheltered a queen of Aragon plus 100 men and their horses for a night,. It has been coppiced over many hundreds of years, if not the odd thousand! Its size dwarfs the owner of CWP Fencing, Colin Roots.