Image credit: Dominic Alves, used under Creative Commons license.
For most people, the concept of harvesting wood is a pretty simple proposition—you chop down a tree, it dies, and you use the wood for fuel, building materials, mulch or whatever needs you have for it. Yet there is another way—across much of the world, in Europe in particular, coppicing has been used as a traditional, low impact method of continuously harvesting wood from the same trees. In fact, some coppiced trees are as old as 1000 years, and have been harvested many times over for wood. For some reason, the practice never really took off in the US. Now one team of agroforestry advocates is aiming to change all that, and they need your help. As shown in Bonnie's post about National Beanpole Week, traditional coppice management is not just about preserving the life of trees, maintaining soil structure, or sequestering carbon—though all of these are important benefits. Coppiced woodland also creates a unique habitat that allows wildflowers, pollinators, mice and birds to thrive in the semi-shaded conditions.
Because of its labor intensive nature, the practice has died out somewhat—even in Europe which was, in many ways, built on coppiced materials. But that labor intensiveness is both a boon and a burden—with all the talk of green collar jobs and conservation, the idea of nurturing and reviving coppicing is taking off. From sustainable, locally sourced charcoal networks to greenwood furniture making, there are plenty of enterprises on the case in Europe. And Ben Law's legendary woodland house owes much of its existence, both economically and structurally, to coppiced woodland.
Yet coppicing remains relatively unheard of in the US. (Probably an accident of history—the practice of coppicing was on the wane in Europe just as the US was developing into the major economy it is today.) But Dave Jacke and Mark Krawczyk, a pair of agroforestry and permaculture advocates, are aiming to change all that. And they need your help to do it. The pair are planning on writing a book about the practice of coppicing, and they are seeking to self-fund that process. They are reaching out to like-minded permaculturists, sustainable land-use activists, and biomass addicts, and asking for support for their Coppice Agroforestry book through KickStarter. They've already reached their goal of $5000 to get started, but with an estimated $18,000 needed to complete the project, they are grateful for any additional support.
Check out the video below to get an idea of why this matters.
More on Agroforestry, Coppicing and Sustainable Land Use
Ben Law: Woodland Living in Style
National Beanpole Week is Good for the Environment
Centralized Ordering for Decentralized Supply: The Bioregional Charcoal Company
TreeStations: A Bioregional Solution to Urban Forestry Waste