Advice on short rotation forestry for the British Isles

Advice on coppicing

Information and advice > Advice on coppicing

Most eucalyptus species coppice freely. Of those likely to be grown in the British Isles, the main exception is Eucalyptus nitens. Coppicing after the first rotation offers opportunities to have subsequent rotations at low establishment cost, and this makes it attractive to many landowners.

However, the decision on whether to have a coppice rotation is not necessarily a straightforward one. In particular, the manner in which coppice develops varies between species. The extremes are illustrated by photographs of coppice from E. gunnii and E. rubida:

Coppice growth Eucalyptus gunnii age 9 years

Coppice re-growth of Eucalyptus gunnii age 9 years. The multiple co-dominant stems are characteristic of this species. The wood produced will obviously have small diameter and a high proportion of bark, making it unsuitable for firewood logs and for some industrial fuels (because of the high mineral content of bark). Thinning the stems early in the coppice rotation would be possible but would be a significant cost.

Coppice re-growth of Eucalyptus rubida age 6 years

Coppice re-growth of Eucalyptus rubida age 6 years, with no management of the coppice. The formation of one or two dominant stems per stump is a natural characteristic of this and closely-related species such as E. dalrympleana. The costs of establishing the coppice rotation will be low, and the wood produced will be suitable either for firewood logs or for chipping. The yield potential of E. rubida is unclear; E. dalrympleana is likely to be more vigorous and better-adapted in the British Isles.

Until there is more information on the nature of the coppicing response of other eucalyptus species, it is prudent to assume that coppice will not necessarily be a preferred option in subsequent rotations.