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Coppice System – A Detailed Note

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The Coppice System – Everything you need to know

      Crop originating from stool shoots (coppice) or other vegetative means:
      (a) Crop consisting entirely of vegetative shoots:-
i. Simple Coppice system
ii. Coppice selection system.
i. Simple coppice system
§  When the mature crop is removed by clear felling and regeneration is entirely by vegetative methods and the crop is even-aged.
ii.   Coppice selection
§  Only a portion of the selected shoots are retained for future crop uneven-aged.
iii. Coppice with standards system
§  When the crop is partly of coppicing and partly of seedling origin.


·       Crop in part at least, originating from shoots (coppice) or by other vegetative means
·       Crop consisting entirely of vegetative shoots, crop removed by clear felling, even-aged is coppice system.
·       When regeneration is primarily from coppice shoots or root suckers the silvicultural system is known as the coppice system.
·       The system is usually adopted for hardwoods when a small dimensional stock is required for firewood, basket manufacture, small poles etc.
·       The system is also adopted on arid eroded slopes subject to heavy grazing where natural regeneration is scanty and 100 % artificial regeneration is not economic.
·       The forests worked under this system depends
·       Upon coppice shoots for regeneration these shoots comes up from the adventitious buds on the stumps of freshly felled trees.
·       This system is applicable for only those species which are good and vigorous coppicers, particularly in their early stages, hence the rotation under this system is short .broadly speaking under the coppice system, regeneration is obtained mainly from stool coppice shoots and where the rotation period is fairly short.
·       These systems are further differentiated on the basis of sequence of felling method to be adopted as follows.


·       This is the simplest form of the coppice system. It is a silvicultural system based on stool coppice in which crop that has attained the rotation age, is completely clear-felled with standards being retained as shelterwood, and the bearers or for any other purpose.
·       In simpler words under this system an area is clear felled completely with regeneration being obtained by means of coppice shoots. No trees for any purpose what so ever are retained.


·       Under this system a fixed area is clear-felled each year and a new crop is obtained by means of coppice shoots. The most suitable season for felling is just before the growing season, where there is ample food, reserves in the roots. This operation is well spread over the entire period by dormancy i.e
·       From November to February or the middle of March
·       Moreover care is taken to ensure that fellings are complete before the commencement of the growing season as more the delay, more are chances of the coppice being poor and weak.


·       The salient features of felling under this system are as follows
i.       The stump is neither too low nor too high
ii.     The lower the stump height, the better it is for the coppice shoots, as they are likely to be damaged by wind.
iii.   If the trees are felled too low, there is very like the wood splitting of the stump or its drying up. In either case, the regeneration is adversely affected.
iv.   The trees are felled in such a manner that stump does not split and the bark is not detached from the wood.
v.     Generally, a slight slope is provided while felling, so that the rainwater quickly drains away and does not collect on the stump ( to avoid rooting of the stem )


Ø  Regeneration is obtained by means of stool coppice shoots.
Ø  However the trees cannot be made to coppice continuously rotation after rotation after a couple of rotations they tend to lose their vigor and ultimately fail to coppice, thus drying off after a certain period of time.
Ø  Blanks are filled up by planting.


The following tending operations are carried out
i.       After one of the felling cleanings of climbers and inferior species is done.
ii.     The number of coppice shoots is reduced to two or three and finally to one.
iii.   The object of management determines whether or not thinnings are needed. If the main aim is fuelwood production these are not done. If the object is the production of timber and poles, then thinnings are needed under such circumstances, the first thinning is carried out in the fifth year of growth of the coppice shoots. During this operation, only one shoot per stump is retained. This stage is also known as the singling out operation.


i.       It is a simple system in practice.
ii.     Reproduction is very chiefly attained.
iii.   The establishment of regeneration under this system is more or less even.
iv.   The mean annual increment in this system is much more, due to the rate of growth of coppice shoots is faster as compare to high forest system.
v.     Even though the timber produced is of a relatively small size and inferior but the net return on the investment is higher. Because of the fact that a lesser amount is invested due to the short rotation and chief cost of regeneration.
vi.   This system has a shorter period of rotation, returns are quick, quite contrary to the case of high forest systems wherein returns may be available only after 100 years or so.


i.       Under this system only small-sized timber is produced
ii.     This system is not very desirable from an aesthetic and recreational point of view.
iii.   The growth rate of coppice crop is relatively higher, therefore it has been reported that considerable loss of mineral nutrients from the soil in areas where this system is applied.
iv.   A particular forest cannot be treated permanently under this system as after every rotation some shoots die off.
v.     The coppice crop is prone to damage by frost, which lead to the death of the coppice shoots.
vi.   Coppice crop is also liable to damage by any fierce, wind or gale to break these shoots which are not permanently attached to the soil but to the stems.


·       This system is suitable for the following condition
i.       The simple coppice system in the regions where exist a fairly high demand for fuelwood, poles, the timber of small sizes and wood for agricultural implements.
ii.     This system is best adapted for areas where crops are raised under social forestry schemes.
iii.   Due to its small growth stocks, quick returns, and low investments, this system is best suited for treatment of forest on private lands.
iv.   Prescribed for inferior portions of irrigated plantations where large size timber cannot be produced. Since the entire felled area is planted at six by ten feet’s spacing with the Shisham stumps.
      A sizeable portion of the final crop admittedly comes to consist of root suckers and coppice shoots.
v.     A large number of Eucalyptus plantations have been carried out in Pakistan.
·       Eucalyptus globulus is worked out under simple coppice system, with a rotation of 15 years. The area is replanted after three rotations. In these plantations, there is fall in yield (between 15-20%) in the fourth rotation.
·       The Eucalyptus plantations are raised for the production of poles, pulpwood and fuel are treated under simple coppice system with a rotation of 8-10 years.


·       This is a modification of the simple coppice system. The shelterwood coppice system was developed (By Trevor) mainly for working forests in frosty localities.


·       The following are the salient features
i.       About 125-150 trees are retained as a protection against frost.
ii.     These are the best growing one selected from all over the forest, care is taken to avoid clustering of such trees.
iii.   The shelterwood trees are retained till the young coppice shoots are fully established. such trees are removed in phased manner e.g such removals under normal conditions :


·       The system is applicable under the following conditions
a)     In localities where severe frost is common.
b)     In areas where the species to be coppice is able to give off stool shoots up to later ages also.
c)     In areas where there is demand of large-sized trees besides small-sized timber.
d)     In tracts where locality factors are excellent.


·       Crop consisting partly of vegetative shoots, partly of trees, generally of seedling origin
·       Under this system, a limited number of coppice shoots or seedlings plants is retained at each coppice felling. In the coppice felling a proportion of the standards so retained is felled and a new set reserved.
·       At the next coppicing, the oldest standards may all be felled or a number of them may be retained for yet another coppice rotation.
·       There will thus always be present an upper story of standards of one, two or three ages (and diameter classes) depending upon the maximum size of standards required.


·       The irrigated Shisham plantations were originally managed under this system, the standards being retained for trees of the twenty years coppice rotations, but with the spread of the profitable mulberry, changes have been introduced lacking at present to the two storied high forests with every prospect of further changes to the clear felling system with replanting of the so-called industrial species at least over certain areas.
·       The coppice with standards has the following characteristics, which differentiate it from the simple coppice system.


·       In the coppice with standards system, there are two rotations.
·       Rotation I rotation for the coppice crop
·       Rotation II rotation of the standards


·       The crop under this system has two components
i.       The lower story which comprises an EVEN-AGED coppice crop .this component is treated in principle of simple coppice and is generally raised for purposes of fuelwood, poles, etc.
ii.     The upper story or the over wood, which comprises of a number of scattered trees mainly of seedling origin. These trees belong to different age classes and are treated on high forest principles (SELECTION SYSTEM). Such trees are usually required for the supply of large-sized timber.


i.       Increase in revenue returns
ii.     Supply of timber of large size.
iii.   Protection of the coppice crop against frost.
iv.   To enable the seedling regeneration to keep up the vigor of the coppice.
v.     To enrich the coppice crop.
Standards are selected at the rate of one in each ten meter or twenty-meter squares. The standards are clearly marked and with rings of white paint or coal tar.


·       Regeneration is brought mainly by means of stool coppice shoots however the gaps are filled by planting and sowing. Natural regeneration is also encouraged.


i.                 After clear felling, slash burning
ii.               Cleanings
iii.             Thinning as


The two stories are produced
i.                 Even-aged over wood (upper story )
ii.               Uneven-aged underwood (lower story )


i.       It allows for the standards to grow in isolation and get the fullest benefit of light increment without exposure of the soil.
ii.     This system is combined advantage of the coppice system and high forest systems.
iii.   The standards serve as seed bearers or mother trees, which establish regeneration and regeneration of the coppice crop.
iv.   In simple coppice system the soil is prone to soil erosion but in this system provide protection to the soil.
v.     This system entails a low level investment. it provides returns as under:-
Overwood:- High but late returns.
Underwood:- Low but early returns.
vi.   The coppice with standards system is very beneficial to wildlife habitat.
vii.  For an aesthetic and recreational point of view too, this system is far superior to the simple coppice system.


I.                It exerts a very heavy burden on the soil in the form of removal of minerals nutrients.
II.              This system needs a fair degree of technical know how to maintain the correct balance between standards and coppice.
III.            It is the fashion between the coppice and high forests systems.


i.                 Demand for both fuelwood and large sized timber exists.
ii.               Where climatic factors prohibit the adoption of the simple coppice system.
iii.             This system is not applicable to the dry irregular mixed deciduous forests.


·       Following are the differences between shelterwood coppice system and coppice with standards system.
i.       Standards are retained for only a part of the rotation while in the shelterwood coppice system for the entire period in the coppice with the standard system.
ii.     The number of rotation differs as shelterwood coppice system has one rotation while coppice with standards has two rotations.
iii.   The object of management also differs as shelterwood coppice system is for protection against frost while coppice with standards is for supplementing regeneration, production of large-sized timber, enrichment of coppice crop and protection against frost.


·       Some authors consider this system as similar to the modified simple coppice system of 1927.
·       However in 1961 this system was accepted as a definite silvicultural by the tenth silvicultural conference, which recommended its application to DRY DECIOUDUS forests
·       The coppice with reserved systems is a silvicultural system in which fellings are carried out only in areas which are likely to benefit as a result.
·       All financially immature growth of the favoured , as well as other valuable miscellaneous groups, trees yielding products of economic importance, even the entire crop are protective considerations.


·       In this system, more emphasis is laid on conservation, rather than felling. Hence, the first step is to identify areas which are need of protective measures or some improvement fellings and where fellings can safely be carried out.
·       Felling tends to vary from locality to locality.
·       In practice, the old crop is reserved to form a part of the new crop in the following manner.
a.      Reservations based on areas
b.     Reservations based on trees
c.      Reservation based on species.


·       The entire crop of the area is reserved under the following circumstances
I.      Severely eroded areas or areas which are prone to erosion.
II.    A strip of trees along rivers and nalas, whose protection is very essential from soil conservation point of view.
III.  Areas which are poor stocking
IV.  Areas bearing a fairly dense crop ( pole )
V.    High-quality areas where the crop is grown under optimum conditions.
VI.  Patches of forests around springs, wells, mosques, schools, colleges etc.


·       The reservation is based on individual trees. Such trees are of a fixed diameter class, usually between 2.5-4.5 cm
·       The well-grown pole of the following species is reserved in mixed forests, where there is a dearth of adequate regeneration and advanced growth.
Gemelia aroborea
Bombax ceiba
Dalbergia latifolia
·       All such poles are reserved under the above conditions without any restrictions on the number of trees per hectare.
·       The rest of the crop is clear felled, such reservation is done .
i.       Supply of seed
ii.     Protection of the soil
iii.   Maintenance of the soil fertility.
iv.   Supply of industrial timber.
v.     To meet the requirements of the local people.
·       Under this system all financially mature trees are removed unless its retention.
·       The term financially mature, is inclusive of all middle-aged trees , which have attained their maximum MAI


·       Certain species which are yielding edible or commercial products such as fruits, minor forest produce etc are retained


·       Regeneration is obtained chiefly by means of coppice shoots. Also advanced growth and regeneration from seeds


·       The following tending operations may be carried out
i.       Climber cutting is carried out a year after the main fellings.
ii.     Reduction of the stool coppice shoots is done as under
iii.   Thinnings are also done ad the mid-rotation age of crops having a rotation of over 30-40 years.


·       The crop produced under this system occurs mainly in the form of irregular, scattered groups of even-aged coppice crop an uneven-aged reserved crop interspersed in between. Thus on the whole, the nature of the crop produced is uneven-aged.


·       Following are the differences between coppice with standards and coppice with reserves
a.      In the coppice with standards crop produced comprises of two stories viz underwood (even-aged coppice) and the over wood (uneven-aged coppice), while in case of coppice with reserves, the resultant cannot be distinguished into canopies.
Both the coppice and reserved crops are irregularly scattered all over the forest and interspaced in between the crop is uneven-aged.
b.     In the coppice with standards , the object of retaining the standards the production of large size timber while in the coppice with reserves , the object of reserving the trees soil conservation and production of raw material for industries .
c.      In the coppice with the standards are prescribed for the over wood and the underwood .while in coppice with reserves the entire forest is treated as a single entity .
d.     There are two separate rotations in the coppice with standards for the over wood and the underwood . while in coppice with reserves only one rotation and short felling cycle of 10-15 years .
e.      Standards are comprised of one or two of the available species in case of the coppice with standards while in coppice with reserves , the reserves are comprised of many different species .
f.      In the coppice with standards , a financially immature crop is also sacrificed for obtaining a good coppice whereas in case coppice with reserves a financially immature crop is retained and sacrificed .
g.     The coppice with standards is a fairly rigid system while coppice with reserve is relatively elastic .
h.     In the coppice with standards regeneration is obtained mainly by coppice while in coppice with reserves regeneration is obtained by a mixture of coppice , advanced growth and from seeds .


1.     It is very helpful in improving the site quality, soil, moisture, crop, composition, (locality conditions).
2.     This system provides for the best returns per unit area in terms of money.
3.     It provides the need of the local people and meeting the demands of forest-based industries.
4.     Suitable conditions are created for inducing regeneration of valuable species from natural seedlings.


i.       A fairly high degree of skill is required for its planning and execution.
ii.     The provision for the reservation of a large number of trees of various species has an adverse effect on coppice growth.


·       When valuable species in the crop are light demanders but is not applicable when the valuable species are shade bearer and frost tender. e.g.
·       The coppice with reserve system is being extensively used for the treatment of dry deciduous forests.


·       The coppice selection system is a silvicultural system based on the principle of the selection system.
·       Under this system, fellings are carried out after carefully selecting the trees on several considerations.
·       Regeneration is obtained mainly by stool coppice shoots.
·       Only a portion of the shoots cut at each felling, the crop is uneven-aged.


a. A minimum exploitable size of the material required is fixed and the felling cycle is fixed.
b.   A sequence of felling is also fixed for yield control.
c.   The rest is retained for future crops and over exploitable size are removed.


·       Stool coppice shoots are reduced as under.


·       An uneven-aged crop is produced in forest treated under this system.


·       This system is applied the
Acacia modesta
Olea cuspidate and Dedonae viscose scrub forests of Pakistan .
·       An exploitable diameter is fixed for each species:-
Acacia modesta =2-3 inch
Olea cuspidata=6-8 inch
Dodonea viscosa = 2-3 inch
·       The aforesaid sizes by one and two in sixty years while by three in 30 years.
·       The rotation is usually divided into to two felling cycles of 30 years each.
·       The yield is regulated by area and the annual coupe is roughly 1-30 of the total area.
·       During felling Olea is preferred over the other species. The stems are cut as low as possible and dressed to reduce the incidence of rot. Area felled is closed to grazing for a period of 10 years. Blanks are stocked artificially.


·       Pollard is a tree whose stem (at times main branch) is cut off, usually above the height to which the browsing animals can reach, in order to obtain flush of shoots. The pollard system involves the periodic pollarding of trees of pollarding species.


Pollarding is done just below the start of the main growing season.
Pollarding of the stem is done with a sharp instrument.
Usually, a slightly slanting cut is given.
The height at which pollarding is done should be behind the reach of browsing animals, which is the advantage over the coppice system.


Certain species e.g Salix is pollarded in Kashmir.


There are essentially three basic silvicultural systems in the world. All others systems are modifications & combinations of these three systems:
i.                 Clear felling silvicultural system/clear-cutting system
ii.               Selection wood system/selection silvicultural system/single stem silvicultural system.
iii.             Shelterwood silvicultural system/uniform shelterwood system/uniform system.
iv.             Coppice with standards silvicultural system.
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Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani is working as Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu ( Forestrypedia (, All Pak Notifications (, Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

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