Influences of deer browsing, coppice history, and standard trees on the growth and development of vegetation structure in coppiced woods in lowland England

Andrew C. Joys, R. J. Fuller, P. M. Dolman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


In parts of England areas of woodland previously coppiced are being brought back into active coppice management at a time when deer populations are increasing, and after decades with an absence of management. This paper examines the effects of overstorey canopy cover, coppice restoration, and deer browsing on the growth, and structure of the coppice and other understorey vegetation. At 11 coppice woodlands in lowland England, coppice compartments were categorised based on their coppicing history (restored versus continuous), low and high overstorey canopy cover, and low and high deer browsing levels. Gross vegetation structure in the years following harvesting was also examined. Deer browsing was assessed from signs of structural browsing damage and presence of deer. Deer browsing and overstorey cover reduced the density of the understorey. There was also a weak effect of coppice history with restored coppice exhibiting less vigorous vegetation than continuous coppice. Deer browsing damage was more pronounced in compartments with a low overstorey canopy cover, possibly due to the more luxuriant understorey coppice re-growth. Browsing damage is consistent with that expected at low to moderate levels of potential browsing intensity. Future restoration of coppice and growth of stools after coppicing is likely to be successful and worthwhile only if active measures are taken to reduce deer browsing damage and possibly deer populations as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-37
Number of pages15
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Early online date24 Aug 2004
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2004

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