When I started work in Angus Council in 1996 I quickly found that Hazel was very scares on the ground.
The historic reason for this strange situation still eludes me but,
the opportunity eventually came around to amend such strangeness in 1998 when the Local Authority (my empolyers) decided to participate in the Millennium Forest for Scotland project.
I realised that Hazel could grow in Angus in spite of its near, 99% absence from all but the steepest deepest, native wooded riversides or Dens, as we call them in Angus. Hazel was even absent in the urban landscaping schemes and rural ancient hedgerows! Things had to change.
As part of the Angus Millennium Forest, three year project, we planted around 6,335 hazel. With subsequent planting of 11,245, so a grand total of 17,580 hazel planted over approximately 10 years.
I incorporated into the AMF design two specific, 100% planted hazel woodlands as ‘Hazel coppice’ but with no real means or knowledge of managing them as coppice at that time. We came to the conclusion we could use hazel coppice as an urban forest design tool, as it is a small growing tree/shrub and may be cut to the ground and survive i.e. coppiced. But this had to be tested. These are useful attributes to have at your disposal, for the urban forester. While establishing and managing woodlands you can also retain views and light into peoples gardens and houses.
In 2008 the opportunity arose to amend my knowledge gap. I met an experienced hazel coppicer and hedge layer who lives locally in Forfar, what luck!
Torquel was looking for a local source of hedge laying hedge binders and stakes which I didn’t know I could supply.
The Hazel coppice project suddenly came to life and was made possible. So now, we have an example of a full rotation of 7 years of coppice in Forfar Lochside started 2009/10 and finishing in 2015/16. A second new site was started last year at Kirriemuir hill wood, a more exposed, slower growing site. This is rotation is a 9 year cycle from 2016 to 2024. It is a bigger site 0.79ha each coppice coup approximately 0.1ha. The ‘dead tree in the bundle’ is that it is costing the Council £1717per annum for felling with no outlet sale or use for the bent hazel timber, other than rabbit protection brash. Things will need to change, I hope through the active sale of hazel rods generating an income for Angus Council Parks Services to hely offset the outlay. But I am sure there are other great ideas out there in the wonderful world of coppice.
Fred Conacher (Urban Forester or Tree officer)
6th Septembert 2016
Tel. 01307 473027
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