Coppice- with- standard forests — Timber and firewood supply from one crop



Mittelwald_Seite_1_Bild_0007The old forestry man­age­ment, favour­ing 2 lay­ers of veg­e­ta­tion (one low­er for cop­pic­ing and grass­es and one high trunk lay­er for seed trees) called “Mit­tel­wald­be­trieb” and cppice-with-stan­dard for­est, had been the typ­i­cal forestry prac­tice until the 19th cen­tu­ry. In the “Grousse­bësch” this kind of wood­land man­age­ment had also been fol­lowed and was even nec­es­sary because of the unreg­u­lat­ed exploita­tion of the woods the Mid­dle Ages. Cop­pic­ing became an absolute neces­si­ty to gain fire­wood and timber.

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Char­ac­ter­is­tic for the “Grousse­bësch”: old oaks from a cop­pice-with-stan­dard for­est man­age­ment, with their large crowns and rel­a­tive­ly short trunks.

Main­ly young shoots were cut and a good part of the strong bole Pen­dun­cu­late oaks (called “Lass­reis­er or Lass­re­i­t­el”) for exam­ple were spared in order to let them grow to form the upper high trunk lay­er of the for­est, as it still can be seen in the “Grousse­bësch” today. This pro­ce­dure had been repeat­ed many times so that soon there had been a coeval low­er lay­er and a non-coeval high­er lay­er of veg­e­ta­tion. First both lay­ers orig­i­nate from cop­pic­ing and lat­er on the high trunk trees were espe­cial­ly planted.

This form of man­age­ment allowed the pop­u­la­tion to get con­tin­u­ous­ly tim­ber and fire­wood out of the same for­est. Besides, the oak barks were used for tan­ning, the acorns to fat­ten the pigs and the light grassy veg­e­ta­tion to feed cat­tle and hors­es. Up to the 19th cen­tu­ry this form of for­est man­age­ment played a very impor­tant eco­nom­ic role for the inhab­i­tants of the region. The upper lay­er was formed by high trunk seed trees, in order to gain timber.

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The tra­di­tion­al cop­pice-with-stan­dard wood offered fire­wood, tim­ber, feed
(acorns, beech­nuts, grass and leaf) and the barks served for tanning.

The picture of the forest today

Togeth­er with the devel­op­ment of the rail­way as a mean of trans­port at the begin­ning of the 19th cen­tu­ry, the min­er­al coal began to replace more and more wood as an ener­gy source and the cop­pice-with-stan­dard for­est man­age­ment lost of its impor­tance. In the last quar­ter of the 19th cen­tu­ry the pre­ferred form of for­est man­age­ment became the “Hochwald­be­trieb” or high forests, mean­ing that main­ly high trunk trees, grown out of seed or plant­ed, pop­u­late the for­est. This form of man­age­ment is today still valid in Lux­em­bourg and only few of the old cop­pice-with-stan­dard forests can be found. How­ev­er in Italy and France for exam­ple this old for­est man­age­ment prac­tice can still be found more frequently.

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Out of these stools of a Euro­pean Beech and a Euro­pean Hornbeam
new fire­wood could be gained after 25–30 years.
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Fire sala­man­der

There are in fact many argu­ments in favour of the cop­pice-with-stan­dard method, not only from the his­tor­i­cal point of view, but also and main­ly con­cern­ing the pro­tec­tion of species from fau­na and flo­ra. Cop­pice-with stan­dard forests are often very rich in light with a dense herb and shrub lay­er, offer­ing shel­ter to many dif­fer­ent ani­mal species (more than 50 bird species, many bee­tle and but­ter­fly species or, like in this for­est the fire sala­man­der). In fact the mosa­ic struc­ture of this wood­land with its light and shad­ow zones shows many dif­fer­ent liv­ing con­di­tions on a rather small site.

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The align­ment of the fruits on the long pedun­cle gave its name to
the “Pen­dun­cu­late oak” typ­i­cal for the cop­pice-with-stan­dard wood.