The Coppice Groves are a unique land management strategy that employs regenerative agroforestry as a means to combat the prevalence of invasive-plant species along woodland edges. A copse is a grove of self-regenerating trees that are routinely cut. To coppice is to cut a shrub or tree that is known to regrow vigorously after a disturbance. Black locust trees are excellent coppice species not only because of their vigorous regrowth habits and abilities but also because of the products that the trees provide, such as: an abundance of early-season flowers rich in nectar that support pollinator-species; interlacing thorny branches for song-bird and ground-nesting bird habitat; nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the nodules of tree roots that improve soil health; and naturally rot-resistant wood that can be used as untreated posts and poles.
Woodland edges are some of the most productive natural landscapes. Managing a coppice grove as a woodland edge means prioritizing areas of active invasive-plant species management. Phase I of the Coppice Grove implementation began in 2017 by Conservancy staff pruning the existing black locusts in to pole form. Phase II saw the installation of trails and a visitors’ hub that provide a close-up experience of the coppice groves, successional meadows, and wide-angle views of the surrounding landscape. Phase III was completed in the Spring of 2019 as Conservancy staff and volunteers planted an additional 150 black locust trees. Later phases are on-going as the Conservancy intends to routinely harvest selected patches of black locust trees to supplement its needs for posts and poles for projects across its preserves.