Coppicing, charcoal and hurdles

Coppicing, charcoal and hurdles

Some 90% of the charcoal used in the UK is imported. In terms of CO2 emissions, this is not good news as so much petrol/fossil fuel is used up transporting it to the UK.

So why not use home produced charcoal? This is now possible if your charcoal comes from the Bioregional Charcoal Company (BRCC) or if you are visiting Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, then you can buy their locally made charcoal from the Visitor Centre.  

BRCC works with some 25 different producers in the UK to produce and sell around 300 tonnes of charcoal each year. It can even be bought through B&Q stores. Most of this is produced from wood derived from local coppiced woodland.

Coppicing involves the cutting back of trees to stumps that are then allowed to grow again. The timber is cut from the trees every 7 to 20 years (depending on the species of tree and the use to which the timber is to put to). Coppicing creates a mosaic of woodland stands of different ages (sometimes called coups), it helps promote biodiversity allowing certain endangered species (such as the dormouse, the wood white butterfly etc) to flourish.

Charcoal is not the only product from coppicing; coppiced ash and hazel can be used in the construction of fencing (sometimes referred to as hurdles) and other products, such as tool handles, plant supports, dibbers, and simple furniture.

Coppicing, which has been practiced in this country for hundreds if not thousands of years, is a sustainable woodland management system. Sadly, the area of actively coppiced woodlands has declined dramatically since the end of the 1940’s (when coppicing helped with limited fuel supplies). English Nature would like to see 70.000 hectares of woodland under active coppice management but this will not happen unless there is a market for the products of coppicing! So go out and buy a bag of locally produced charcoal.

For more information on coppiced woodland – see:



Hello, I would like to learn how to do charcoal burning.
Does anyone know of any courses or places I could help out and learn at the same time?
I am based in East Sussex. thank you Tessa


29 July, 2020

Would willow work as well for weaving an edge, just a foot or so high? Thanks


20 August, 2012

I’m looking for a source of coppiced hazel somewhere in Shropshire. Hoping to use it to make mini hurdles to edge our allotment beds! Thanks for any advice :-)


20 August, 2012

The wye community farm, in ashford kent do an excellent charcoal course, well worth travelling for. I am a shareholder and when i went on the july course i was extremely impressed.


11 September, 2011

I sell willow and hazel for hurdle fences, email me for prices etc. [email protected]

andy basham

11 April, 2009

Does anyone know of a supplier of either Hazel or willow in Cambs’ area? I’m particularly keen to make either a continuous weave or hurdle based fence.

george layton

10 March, 2009

Trish De Santos, if you are still looking for a Charcoal Kiln try http://www.woodsmithstore.co.uk

Allan Rogers

29 January, 2009

We have found an easy method of making charcoal for our own use. You can read about it here:

Tracy Pepler

29 January, 2009

Environmental considerations of a broader kind would make a better case for an increasing in land under coppice than “going out and buying a bag of charcoal” There is a healthy developing demand for logs for woodburners, a practice that is probably the most sustainable and efficient kind of alternative energy going. English nature would do well to focuson the promotion of domestic and small buisness log burning, supporting a win-win situation in which biodiversity, carbon-output and fuel shortages are all relieved. Lets see massive regeneration of woodland through what is by far the most efficient and enviromentally friendly biofuel.

Mike Bispham

15 January, 2009

The Weald and Downland Open Aire Museum does regualr courses on both coppicing and charcoal burning:



13 January, 2009

There is a volunteer group working at Standen, East Grinstead, West Sussex (a National Trust property) that does coppicing, charcoal making, hedge laying and so on. You could try contacting the Head Gardener there and see whether he’d be willing to let you work with the group and see how it’s done.


29 November, 2008

hi guys. does anyone know of any areas of woodland in need of coppicing? i have the tools & the know how.. & require plenty of wood to make things from!! please post if you know of any leads. many thanks


27 November, 2008

Hi Trish

You could try asking in WoodLots.
http://www.woodlots.org.uk hope this helps you to find one!

Tracy Pepler

15 July, 2008

Anyone out there know were we can lay our hands on a charcoal kiln?
We are in Kent.



Trish Dos Santos

6 April, 2008

Thanks for those , they look good. I am still hoping for somewhere in East Sussex! We would like to not travel too far and get to know people who have woods near us!


Tracy Pepler

4 August, 2007

Tim at cherry wood would probably be pleased to have you along at a charcoal burning. why not ask him?


17 July, 2007

The Netherfield Centre for Sustainable Food and Farming in Battle, East Sussex, is running a charcoal making course in July which costs only £30. That might be worth looking into.


23 May, 2007

I see from the lack of responses that there don’t seem too many peopl interested in spreading the word. In the 90’s I ran, with another chap, a small fire wood buisiness and towards the end we started producing charcoal. It was mainly run by my partner but I did pick up the basics. Now I am to be the owner of my own wood I too would like to ‘go on a course’ but from what I have seen on the web they are all a little on the expensive side. Perhaps membership of the coppice sociaties might help. There is the Surrey and Sussex group – I don’t have a web link to hand: if you Google them you should find plenty of returns. Good luck


19 May, 2007

Hi there

Do you know if there is anyone in East Sussex who does very simple, cheap courses in Charcoal making, or happy to have someone along for a day to help and watch? We would like to learn, and better to learn from a person than just a book!


Tracy Pepler

14 April, 2007

Leave a comment