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Friday, 22 August 2014

Author helping keep coppice tradition alive

A LOCAL author is encouraging people to turn to wood as a main source of fuel.

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CRAFTY: Ed Mills, author of Coppicing and Coppice Crafts: A Comprehensive Guide MILTON HAWORTH REF: 50032985B003

Ed Mills, author of Coppicing and Coppice Crafts: A Comprehensive Guide, also spoke about his new book, his full-time job with Cumbria Woodlands and helping to promote sustainable development across Cumbria.

Mr Mills, a resident of Ulverston, works closely with Cumbria Action for Sustainability as part of his job. He believes that wood is the best form of sustainable fuel and that people are not making the best use of it.

Coppicing and Coppice Crafts: A Comprehensive Guide is all about things that you can make from repetitive felling of a tree stump. A coppice is an area of woodland that is managed. Trees are felled and the stump is repetitively cut back to produce new shoots.

The wood which is felled can be woven and used to make things such as sheep hurdles and baskets. The more often a stump is felled the more new shoots grow. Mr Mills said: “You can do this (coppicing) on a regular cycle. You can do this with most of the trees in our area – oak, ash and hazel all grow back.

In winter it can look like you’ve killed everything – there’s just a bare, muddy mess. But wait until spring when the shoots come through and it looks good. It’s one of Britain’s wonders.”

Mr Mills, who is originally from Essex, has travelled the country coppicing for a living. He discovered that, despite it being a strong tradition in the South East, it is disappearing in the Midlands.

He said: “We are very close to losing this tradition. I wrote the book so it would encourage people to coppice.”

Mr Mills co-wrote the literature with Rebecca Oaks, who has been in the coppice business for 20 years. She also makes pieces from the wood.

The book gives handy hints on how to find a piece of wood that is perfect for coppicing, benefits of coppicing, items to make from the wood and how to run your own coppicing business.

Mr Mills has a new book, which will be released later this year, entitled Greenwood Crafts.

Not only does he have a green-fingered hobby, Mr Mills has a job description to match.

Heading a small team of five, Mr Mills is the director of Cumbria Woodlands. Their aim is to ‘give free advice on managing woodland, help woodland businesses, offer skills training and encourage the use of wood as a fuel.’

He said: “We are strongly pushing it as the ultimate sustainable fuel. It is by and large pretty sustainable. It gives good heating. A huge amount of it in Cumbria is unused, but people can’t just go and chop it down.”

Cumbria Woodlands hopes to help people find felling licenses, take part in chainsaw or wood management courses and discover whether a wood burning boiler would be right for them.

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