© Whitewood & Fleming

Coppice Livings (2016-2019)

Supporting three coppice apprentices in the heart of the country where Bill Hogarth, the late Cumbria coppice merchant, lived and worked.

The late Bill Hogarth was a coppice merchant who worked in the woodlands of South Lakeland. He made a significant contribution to the local area and the many people he generously shared his knowledge and encouragement with.

The Bill Hogarth MBE Memorial Apprenticeship Trust (BHMAT) was set up to pay tribute to his life and continue to train coppice workers. The Coppice Livings project worked in partnership with BHMAT to train and support three coppice apprentices. Working in many of the same woodlands as Bill himself, putting them back into management and helping the long term future of coppicing within the Rusland area and beyond.

By reinforcing the Rusland Valley’s existing coppice heritage, the project has increased awareness of this very specialist trade. More importantly, it has helped carry on the good work that Bill Hogarth started, creating a tangible difference to the area’s woodlands.


  • Two apprentices remained in the area and one in West Cumbria, to set up their own coppice businesses. This will ensure old traditions don’t disappear, the future of the industry is protected and a lasting legacy from the project is established. 
  • The tradition and future of coppicing is in safe hands with all three apprentices, who have become highly skilled and great ambassadors for their trade. They have learnt the practical skills associated with coppicing as well as the fundamentals of this industry; a traditional, sustainable and productive form of woodland management. 
© Edward Mills

So far so good...

  • By autumn 2019, 3 coppice apprentices were trained and supported.
  • All 3 apprentices had plans to set up their own business.
  • One apprentice bought her own woodland in the Rusland Valley to carry on her coppice work.
  • 3 local coppice businesses have been supported.
  • A total of 4 hectares of coppice have been brought back into coppice management.
  • Several woodlands have been put back into management.
  • 6 demonstrations of woodland crafts and skills were presented.

Did you know?

Coppicing is great for woodland wildlife as it allows more light into the woods, encouraging growth of flowers and plants. An increased species diversity attracts more insects, plants and animals to thrive that might otherwise disappear.


The Challenge

Our coppiced woodlands are a haven for many threatened plant, butterfly, moth, bird and small mammal species. Much of this woodland had been neglected, resulting in crucial habitats being lost and traditional skills forgotten. Historically, BHMAT had supported the management of woodlands using environmentally sustainable methods by training coppice workers and apprentices. Recently, however, due to the impact of a challenging funding climate, they had to reduce the number of apprenticeship placements offered.

Our Approach

We funded and supported three people through a three year apprenticeship with BHMAT. The apprentices worked alongside established coppice businesses to receive specialist training and learn practical skills in all aspects of the coppice industry. They were also taught to appreciate and value the fundamentals of coppicing; managing and protecting the woodlands in a sustainable way whilst utilising them to make money.

The apprenticeship assessment was based on both practical skills and written coursework. All three apprentices have been successful in achieving and being awarded the Bill Hogarth Coppice Diploma. They are now fully equipped and qualified to set up their own coppice businesses and carry on the Rusland Valley coppicing legacy.

© Rusland Horizons 2017 - 2024. All rights reserved.
Rusland Horizons was a Landscape Partnership funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund until July 2019. It is now being delivered by The Rusland Horizons Trust Limited. Company No. 2133450; Charity No. 519410; Registered Office: Bleacott Farm, Witherslack, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria LA11 6RZ.