iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Traditional coppice in South East England: the importance of workforce engagement for development

Debbie Bartlett   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 4, Pages 577-582 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1809-009
Published: Apr 04, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles

Collection/Special Issue: IUFRO division 8.02 - Mendel University Brno (Czech Republic) 2015
Coppice forests: past, present and future
Guest Editors: Tomas Vrska, Renzo Motta, Alex Mosseler

This paper describes research into the historic importance of the coppice industry, now largely restricted to south east England and the relevance of this to current rural development policy. The economic and social contexts have altered significantly over time with product substitution and changing consumer aspirations, and particularly the availability of alternative fuel sources. Over the last fifty years the “value” attached to coppiced woodlands has shifted away from resource exploitation and towards a greater appreciation of them for wildlife, recreation, amenity and cultural heritage. This has increased wider public awareness of and appreciation for coppicing as a management technique and, consequently rising concern over the reduction in area managed. This was assumed to be due to market failure but attempts to reverse this by creating new outlets failed. The reason for this has been explored by engaging directly with the workforce, both individually and in focus groups. Coppice workers were found to be more numerous, active and enterprising than previously thought, and many were found to be working in family groups servicing traditional markets. They were unaware of concerns about decline in the area coppiced or initiatives to address it. Issues currently affecting their businesses included housing costs, rural crime, harvesting restrictions, loss of yards and training needs. It is concluded that Government policies to promote woodfuel are not likely to succeed without active engagement with the workforce to understand their perspectives and enabling them to participate in policy decisions is recommended.


Chestnut, Workforce, Development, Policy

Authors’ address

Debbie Bartlett
Faculty of Engineering and Science, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Medway, Kent, ME4 4TB (UK)

Corresponding author

Debbie Bartlett


Bartlett D (2016). Traditional coppice in South East England: the importance of workforce engagement for development. iForest 9: 577-582. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1809-009

Academic Editor

Tomas Vrska

Paper history

Received: Aug 12, 2015
Accepted: Feb 08, 2016

First online: Apr 04, 2016
Publication Date: Aug 09, 2016
Publication Time: 1.87 months

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