Types of Woodland

Types of Woodland


coppiceCoppice is the term applied to trees that are cut close to ground level on a rotation that can be anything from 7 to 35 years. This encourages trees to grow with multiple stems from what is known as the ‘stool’. Historically, the cut stems were used to make products for fencing, hurdle making and edging and more. Typical species used include hazel, hornbeam, sweet chestnut and ash. Coppicing prolongs the life of a tree and provides an excellent habitat for wildlife.


coppice with standardsScattered single-stemmed trees (or ‘standards’) such as oak and ash are allowed to grow to maturity within the coppice woodland. These are managed on much longer rotation (fifty years or more) to produce timber (sawn wood used for construction) and create woodlands with a greater feeling of age and structure.

Mature woodland

mature woodOften described as closed-canopy woodland. Generally, many single-stemmed trees have grown tall, intercepting much of the light and preventing it from reaching the woodland floor. This creates shady woodland with fewer smaller ‘under storey’ shrubs creating a more open woodland at ground level. Some are managed to provide crop of timber trees. Many formerly coppice woodlands are reverting to high forest through lack of management.

Wood Pasture

wood pastureA legacy of medieval times and formally used for the purposes of grazing cattle as well as retaining deer. Often surrounded by substantial earth embankments and possessing very old trees and pollards (broad leaved trees cut 1m to 3m above the ground and allowed to re-shoot like coppice) large embankments are not always a sign of wood pasture. These trees are spaced widely, and the widespread grazing results in little understorey (low-level shrubs) establishing itself. The result is a very open and light woodland environment.


Shaws are narrow strips of woodland acting as ancient boundaries between irregular shaped fields. Shaws may be the remnants of larger woods out of which fields were cleared many centuries ago, or they may have developed from narrower hedgerows which have become unmanaged.


plantationForested areas established by planting or direct seeding. These are normally planted to produce a crop and often consist of non-native or exotic species (often conifers). Trees are normally planted in rows of single species and the dense canopy cover suppresses ground flora. Many of the ancient woodland sites within the Surrey Hills AONB have been replanted by non-native species, predominately conifers but also with chestnut, beech and/or ash. These sites are known as Plantation on Ancient Woodland Sites or PAWS.

Gill woodland

Woodland in which steep sided ravines or gills (or ghylls) have formed from the action of streams eroding clay or sandstone beds. Working on such terrain is difficult and so the ravine sides tend to be left unmanaged and hence support mature trees