Oak Coppicing


 Oak bark as an element of the landscape


Oak shrubs are char­ac­ter­is­tic because of their young age and their mul­ti­ple stem stocks. Today only a few of these shrubs are used in forestry. Spe­cial inter­ven­tions and care are nec­es­sary to let those shrubs mutate to high stem trees.

Up from the mid­dle of the 18th cen­tu­ry until nowa­days Lux­em­bourg was cov­ered by large parts of oak shrubs used for leather tan­ning. Most of these low oak woods are to be found in the north­ern part of Lux­em­bourg, called Eis­léck, but in Ern­ster there is also one of these woods called “Warschent”, wit­ness of the ancient wood­land management.


Par­ing with the help of the “cop­pic­ing knife”

On the con­trary of a nor­mal wood where main­ly high sin­gle trunk trees are grow­ing, these low height oak shrubs show the typ­i­cal woody plant mul­ti­ple stems and its man­age­ment rep­re­sents a spe­cial forestry strat­e­gy, between agri­cul­ture and sivi­cul­ture. In their first years, those woods had been used main­ly for their fruits (for exam­ple buckwheat).


The barks were trans­port­ed to the tan­nery, packed in 25 kg bundles

In order to pre­serve ani­mal skins and for the leather pro­duc­tion, oak barks, rich in tan­nin, were peeled off from 15 to 30 years old low oak shrubs , whose mul­ti­ple stems con­tin­ued to grow in order to be cut down and peeled again 15 years later.


To pare and to slit the bark they used the “Lohschleißer”, the spoon, the tip and the ax

The oak shrubs in Ern­ster are rep­re­sent­ing nat­u­ral­ly grown veg­e­ta­tion, as the ones in the Eis­léck are main­ly cul­ti­vat­ed. Even if the shrub forestry had already been used for the fire­wood sup­ply dur­ing the Mid­dle Ages, its hey-day came only lat­er on with the leather pro­duc­tion. In Ern­ster this form of forestry had only been run by the farm­ers as a kind of sup­ple­men­tary side­line (“Warschent” only 20 to 25 ha). The regres­sion of the cop­pic­ing in Lux­em­bourg start­ed with the devel­op­ing influ­ence of import­ed tan­ning agents and lat­er on with the syn­thet­ic tan­ning sub­stances replac­ing the nat­ur­al bark extracts.

An de Waelen”


A Neolith­ic hatch­et and an arrowhead

At the north-east bor­der of the Grünewald there is a small clear­ing called “An de Wae­len”. Dur­ing the last few mil­len­ni­ums hunters and fish­er­men always again vis­it­ed this loca­tion, as it prob­a­bly had ever been a kind of sea­son­al lair, or maybe also a work­shop place, as some arrow­heads and blade frag­ments have been found there. The dis­cov­er­ies are proved to belong to 3 dif­fer­ent Stone Age peri­ods: Palae­olith­ic, Mesolith­ic and Neolith­ic. Rea­sons for the “pop­u­lar­i­ty” of this place could have been its hol­low like posi­tion, pro­tect­ed by winds and rains, as well as the pres­ence of a spring and a small riv­er, attract­ing all kinds of game.