Doffcocker: Coppicing Osier

Coppicing at Doffcocker Lodge, 29th January 2023

Doffcocker Lodge Local Nature Reserve, was Bolton’s first, and for many years only LNR. The lodge was originally built to supply water for Bolton’s industry and made use of the site’s elevation and plentiful water supply from the numerous springs and streams running into the valley. Today it is a haven for bird life including kingfisher, reed bunting, willow tit, and an occasional stop over for bittern.

Our task today was harvesting osier stems from one of the 3 compartments on the northern shore. The compartments were originally created to prevent Canada geese from damaging the vegetation along the shoreline, leading to erosion and loss of habitat. This has allowed willow to grow and in doing so stabilises the soil and create habitat, but it needs to be managed. The last time we did this was in December 2020, before that it was 2015.

December 2015

Coppicing is an age old woodland management technique that exploits our native trees’ ability to regrow after being damaged. Cutting these trees back causes them to regrow new shoots and stems which can then harvested for firewood, charcoal making, or craft materials. In this case we’re coppicing osier to for use in hurdle weaving projects at local schools. All of the willow that was cut will regrow and in doing so create habitat for birds and invertebrates. It is a highly sustainable method of woodland management and causes no harm to the trees used for harvesting.

Incidentally, Doffcocker is derived from the site’s Celtic name meaning The Black Winding Stream. I bet you really wanted to know that, so now some photos.