About the site
Johnston's Coppice is a small urban woodland popular with dog walkers. The little pond and reed area provides some habitat variety and the wood has a well trodden footpath. Some sizeable oaks and beeches mark the way through the coppice.
Coppiced woods have had a long history of being worked by man. As the names suggest, these woods would once have been coppiced by the local farmer or even by roving woodsmen. Sometimes the woodsmen would camp out all winter, some even had their families with them. Coppicing is the traditional craft of harvesting woodlands to make a range of useful wood products. These can include hazel hurdles, tool handles, thatching spars and charcoal. This management helps provide a valuable temporary habitat for many animals and plants by allowing sunlight down to the woodland floor for a few years.
The cut trees are not dead but will resprout lots of new stems which can be harvested again in the years to come. A worked woodland will have a number of coup's (cut areas) which are harvested on a rotation. Butterflies will particularly benefit from the temporary sunny glades being created by coppicing.
Historically the wood was used for hurdle making in particular. In Hampshire's rolling landscape sheep would be allowed to roam on the downs during the day but would have been "folded" or fenced in with hazel hurdles at night. This was often done near a farmstead. This not only kept them safe from predators but also meant that most of their dung was deposited on land which was then cultivated - an easy method of fertilising the soil. The typical Hampshire habitats of chalk downland and hazel coppice were therefore once interdependent.
Another frequent use of coppice products was for charcoal making, when lengths of wood were piled up over a very slow burning fire, then covered with turf and allowed to smoulder for days, resulting in charred wood - or charcoal.
Staunton Country Park, Middle Park Way, Havant PO9 5HB
Phone 02392 453405