Furzefield Wood: A Coppice Cycle
Nestling between Cranbourne Industrial Estate and the Furzefield Leisure Centre in Potters Bar lies Furzefield Wood and Halfpenny Bottom Local Nature Reserve. This small wildlife refuge contains Hertfordshire’s only surviving continuously coppiced Hazel woodland.
Coppicing is a traditional woodland management practice, small diameter wood is regularly harvested or “coppiced” on a rotational cycle of seven or so years to provide a constant and sustainable supply. Coppiced hazel was once used to produce a range of products such as charcoal, furniture and fencing, these would have been commonplace before more modern materials and mechanized production took their place.
Amongst the dense hazel bushes, large and imposing Oak trees rise up towards the light. These “standards” form the woodland canopy would also have been used to supply wood produce. Large diameter timber would have been carefully selected and sawn to size to provide materials for the construction of timber framed houses or even ships.
Halfpenny Bottom, a linear grassy strip to the north of the woodland is the remains of an old Drovers’ road, along which shepherds and stockmen would have walked their animals to market. Today it is a colorful remnant of old wildflower meadow alive with insects and woodland birds who find food and shelter amongst the scattered bushes.
We will be holding an open day in early February, with guided walks, a display of coppice materials and the coppice worker on site to answer any questions. A traditional heavy - horse logger will be working to move all of the coppice materials to the road side for collection.
Please look out on the Countryside Management Service web-site on the Walks and More section where you will find lots of exciting walks and activities to come along to.