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glossary of common forestry terminology






Click letter to advance to that section of the glossary:

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


ACRE — Area of land containing 43,560 square feet. A square 1-acre plot measures 209 feet by 209 feet; a circular acre has a radius of 117.75 feet.


ANNUAL — A plant that lives or grows for only one year or one growing season.


ANNUAL SEED MIXTURE — A mixture of soybean, millet, cow pea, sorghum, lespedeza, buckwheat, and other seeds from which single‑season plants are grown to serve primarily as food or protective cover for wildlife.


BASAL AREA — The cross-sectional area in square feet of a tree trunk measured at 4.5 feet above the ground.


BIODIVERSITY — The variety of life forms in a given area. Diversity can be categorized in terms of the number of species, the variety in the area's plant and animal communities, the genetic variability of the animals, or a combination of these elements.


BOARD FOOT — A unit of wood measuring 1-inch in thickness by 12-inch in width by 12 inches in length.


BUFFER STRIP — A visual buffer consisting of trees or other vegetation used to screen a road, streamside, or harvest unit, or to protect a riparian area.


CANOPY — A layer or multiple layers of branches and foliage at the top or crown of a forest's trees.


CAPITAL GAINS — Profit on the sale of an asset such as timber, land, or other property.


CERTIFICATION — An evaluation provided by a third party organization that confirms forests are managed sustainably, based on the implementation of a written plan that meets established standards.


CLEAR-CUT HARVEST — A harvest practice that removes all trees within a given area.


CLIMAX COMMUNITY — A relatively stable, undisturbed plant community that has evolved through stages and adapted to its environment.


COMPETITION — The struggle between trees and other plant life to obtain sunlight, nutrients, water, and growing space.


CONSERVATION — The protection, improvement, and wise use of natural resources for present and future generations.


CONSERVATION EASEMENT — A legally enforceable transfer of usage rights for the purposes of conserving land and prohibiting real estate development.


CONTROLLED BURN — (See Prescribed Burn.)


CORD — A stack of round or split wood consisting of 128 cubic feet measuring 4 feet in height by 4 feet in width by 8 feet in length.


COST-SHARE ASSISTANCE — An assistance program offered by various state and federal agencies that pays a fixed rate or percentage of the total cost necessary to implement some forestry or agricultural practice.


COVER — Any plant that intercepts rain drops before they reach the soil or that holds soil in place.


CROP TREE — Tree selected for quality, species, size, timber potential, or wildlife value that is favored for growing to final harvest.


CROWN — The branches and foliage at the top of a tree.


CROWN-CLASS — A tree classification system based on the tree's relative height, foliage density, and ability to intercept light. Classifications include dominant, co-dominant, intermediate, and suppressed.


CULL — A tree or log of marketable size that is useless for all but firewood or pulpwood because of crookedness, rot, injuries, or damage from disease or insects.


CUTTING CONTRACT — A written, legally binding document used in the sale of standing timber specifying the provisions covering the expectations and desires of both buyer and seller.


CUTTING CYCLE — The planned time interval between timber harvest operations within the same stand. For example, on a 10‑year cutting cycle some trees are harvested every 10 years.


DAYLIGHTING — A practice in which trees shading an access road are removed to increase the sunlight on the roadway and along its periphery.


DIAMETER AT BREAST HEIGHT (DBH) — The diameter of a tree measured in inches at breast height 4.5 feet above the ground.


DIAMETER‑LIMIT CUTTING — A selection method in which all marketable trees at or above a specified diameter are harvested.


DIRECT SEEDING — Sowing seed for broad coverage from the air or on the ground.


DRUM CHOPPING — A site preparation technique in which logging debris is leveled by a bulldozer pulling a large drum filled with water.


ECOLOGY — The science or study of the relationships between organisms and their environment.


ECOSYSTEM — The components of a particular habitat, such as a pond or forest, together with the physical environment in which they live.


ECOSYSTEM SERVICES — Indirect benefits provided by the forest ecosystem that help ensure the integrity of critical structure, functions and processes.   


EDGE — The transition between two different types or ages of vegetation.


ENDANGERED SPECIES — Condition that occurs when the total number of a species may not be sufficient to reproduce enough offspring to ensure its survival.


ENVIRONMENT — The interaction of climate, soil, topography, and other plants and animals in any given area.


EPHEMERAL STREAM — Water that flows in natural channels only during significant rainfall.


EROSION — The wearing away of land or soil by the action of wind, water, or ice.


EVAPOTRANSPIRATION — The evaporation of water from the soil and the transpiration of water from the plants that live in that soil.


EVEN-AGE MANAGEMENT — A forest management method in which all trees in an area are harvested at one time or in several cuttings over a short time to produce stands that are all at or near the same age.


FIREBREAK — Any nonflammable barrier such as mineral soil or slow‑burning vegetation used to slow or stop the spread of fire.


FORAGE — Vegetation such as leaves, stems, buds, and some types of bark, that can be eaten for food and energy.


FOREST MANAGEMENT — Proper care and control of wooded land to maintain health, vigor, product flow, and other values such as soil condition, water quality, wildlife preservation and beauty, and to accomplish specific objectives.


FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN — Written guidelines for current and future management practices needed to meet an owner's objectives.


FOREST STEWARDSHIP PLAN — A written document emphasizing long-term, forest sustainability and activities that enhance or improve wildlife, timber, soil, water, recreation, and aesthetics.


FOREST STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM — A cooperative, technical‑assistance program designed to encourage multiple resource management.


FOREST TYPE — Groups of tree species commonly growing in the same stand because their environmental requirements are similar.


FORESTRY — The science, art, and practice of managing and using trees, forests, and their associated resources.


FUEL LOADING — A buildup of easily ignited, fast‑burning fuels such as pinestraw, small branches, and other highly flammable, woody material.


GEOTEXTILE — A synthetic material placed beneath road fill and used to confine the road aggregate and to distribute the weight of the load.


GIRDLING — A physical cutting or disruption of the cambial sap flow that often results in tree mortality.


GROUP SELECTION — A specific type of selective cutting resulting in the removal of small groups of trees in order to regenerate shade‑intolerant trees.


HABITAT — An area in which a specific plant or animal can naturally live, grow, and reproduce.


HABITAT DIVERSITY — A variety of food or cover for wildlife that is often critical to the survival of a species.


HARDWOODS (DECIDUOUS TREES) — Trees with broad, flat leaves shed on an annual basis whose wood hardness varies among individual species.


HIGH-GRADING — A harvesting technique that removes only the largest, most valuable trees from a stand and provides high returns at the expense of future growth potential.


IMPROVEMENT CUT — An intermediate cut made to improve the form, quality, heath, or wildlife potential of the remaining stand.


INVENTORY — Quantitative method used to estimate the actual volume, composition, and market value of standing timber.


MARGINAL LAND — Land that does not consistently produce a profitable crop because of infertility, drought, or other physical limitations such as shallow soils.


MARKETING — The selling of timber or other forest resources based on skillful negotiation, knowledge of timber markets, and the aid of a competent broker or consultant.


MARKING — The physical process of selecting trees to be cut or left during a harvest accomplished normally by spraying a spot of bright paint on a prominent part of the tree.


MAST — Fruits or nuts used as a food source by wildlife.


MATURE TREE — A tree that has reached a desired size or age for its intended use.


MBF — Abbreviation denoting one thousand board feet that is a typical unit of volume for saw logs and manufactured wood products.


MENSURATION — The measurement and calculation of volume, growth, and development of individual trees or stands.


MERCHANTABLE HEIGHT — The maximum stem length above which no other commercially valuable wood product can be manufactured.


MIXED STAND — A timber stand in which less than 80 percent of the trees in the main canopy are of a single species.


MULTIPLE-AGE STAND — A forest stand composed of trees of different ages and sizes.


MULTIPLE-USE MANAGEMENT — Management of land or forest for more than one purpose.


NATURAL REGENERATION — A stand of trees grown from natural seed fall or sprouting.


NUTRIENTS — Naturally occurring, soil elements essential for tree growth and reproduction.


PERENNIAL — Plants that live or grow for more than one year.


PEST — Any unwanted organism that causes stress or mortality to a desired organism.


PESTICIDE — Any chemical used to control or kill pests.


PLANTATION – Trees planted artificially in an ordered configuration such as equally spaced rows.


POLETIMBER — Trees from 5 to 7 inches in diameter at breast height.


PRESCRIBED or CONTROLLED BURN — The use of fire under specific environmental conditions to achieve forest management objectives such as reducing hazardous fuels or controlling unwanted vegetation.


PRESENT USE VALUATION — Property tax relief classification based on the land's productivity for agriculture, horticulture, or forestry production rather than for market value.


PRESERVATION — Maintaining forests in an undisturbed, unmanaged state.


PULPWOOD — Wood used in the manufacture of paper, fiberboard, or other wood fiber products.


PURE STAND — A timber stand in which at least 75 percent of the trees in the main crown canopy are of a single species.


REFORESTATION — Reestablishing a forest by planting or seeding an area from which forest vegetation has been removed.


REGENERATION CUT — A cutting strategy in which old trees are removed in order to reestablish a new stand of seedlings.


REGISTERED LANDS — A permit‑only hunting program in which land is registered with and patrolled by the Wildlife Resources Commission.


REPRODUCTION — The process by which young trees grow to become the older trees of the future forest that occurs through natural sprouting or seeding, or by the planting of seedlings.


RESIDUAL STAND — Trees left in a stand to grow until the next harvest.


RIPARIAN FOREST or RIPARIAN BUFFERS — Vegetative areas along a body of water containing a complex assemblage of vegetation, typical of a riparian system.


ROOT COLLAR — The transition zone between stem and root at the ground line of a tree or seedling.


ROTATION — The number of years required to establish and grow trees to a specified size, product, or level of maturity.


LUMP SUM — The sale of specified timber on a specified area whereby the buyer assumes responsibility for determining timber volume and the seller guarantees ownership and boundaries.


SALVAGE CUT — The harvesting of dead or damaged trees or of trees in danger of being killed by insects, disease, flooding, or other factors.


SAPLING — A small tree, usually between 2 and 4 inches diameter at breast height.


SAWLOG or SAWTIMBER — A log or tree that is large enough (usually 10 to 12 inches in diameter) to be sawed into lumber.


SCARIFYING — The removal of the top litter layer of soil in order to prepare a site for planting.


SEDIMENTATION — The deposition or settling of soil particles suspended in water.


SEEDLING — A tree, usually less than 2 inches diameter at breast height.


SEED TREE CUT — A harvesting method in which a few scattered trees are left in the area to provide seed for a new forest stand.


SEED YEAR — A year in which a given species produces a large seed crop over a sizable area.


SELECTIVE CUTTING — The periodic removal of individual trees or groups of trees to improve or regenerate a stand.


SHADE-INTOLERANT TREES — Trees that cannot thrive in the shade of larger trees.


SHELTERWOOD CUT — Removing trees on the harvest area in a series of two or more cuttings so new seedlings can grow from the seed of older trees.


SILVICULTURE — The art, science, and practice of establishing, tending, and reproducing forest stands of desired characteristics.


STEWARDSHIP INCENTIVE PROGRAM (SIP) — A cost‑sharing program available to forest landowners who have a multi resource forest stewardship plan.


SITE INDEX — A relative measure of forest site quality based on the height (in feet) of the dominant trees at a specific age (usually 25 or 50 years, depending on rotation length).


SITE PREPARATION — Preparing an area of land for planting, direct seeding, or natural reproduction by burning, chemical vegetation control, or by mechanical operations.


SLASH — Tree tops, branches, bark, or other residue left on the ground after logging or other forestry operations.


SOFTWOOD (CONIFER) — Trees that are usually evergreen, bear cones, and have needles or scale-like leaves such as pine, spruce, fir, and cedar.


SOIL TEXTURE — The feel or composition of the soil (sand, silt, or clay) as determined by the size of the soil particles.


SOIL TYPE — Soils that are alike in all characteristics, including texture of the topsoil.


SPECIES — A group of related organisms having common characteristics.


STAND — An easily defined area of the forest that is relatively uniform in species composition or age and can be managed as a single unit.


STEWARDSHIP FOREST — A forest tract that exhibits integrated forest management to protect and enhance wildlife, timber, recreation, natural beauty, and soil and water quality.


STOCKING — A description of the number of trees, basal area, or volume per acre in a forest stand compared with a desired level for balanced health and growth.


STREAMSIDE MANAGEMENT ZONE (SMZ) — An area adjacent to a stream in which vegetation is maintained or managed to protect water quality.


STUMPAGE — Trees as they stand uncut in the woods (on the stump).


SUCCESSION — The natural sequence of plant community replacement beginning with bare ground and resulting in a final, stable community in which a climax forest is reached.


SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY — A holistic, conservation ethic based on environmental balance and health that helps ensure forests will be managed in ways that have the potential to meet the social, physical and economic needs of the present while ensuring similar options for the future.


SUSTAINABLY MANAGED FOREST — A forest that is managed using sustainable forestry principles and criteria. Such management can be confirmed through certification.


SUSTAINED YIELD — Management of forestland to produce a relatively constant amount of wood products, revenue or wildlife.


THINNING — A tree removal practice that reduces tree density and competition between trees in a stand.


THREATENED SPECIES — Condition that occurs when a species exhibits declining or dangerously low populations but still has enough members to maintain or increase numbers.


TIMBER CRUISE — A survey of forestland to locate timber and estimate its quantity by species, products, size, quality, or other characteristics.


TIMBER STAND IMPROVEMENT (TSI) — Improving the quality of a forest stand by removing or deadening undesirable species to achieve desired stocking and species composition.


TOLERANT SPECIES — A species of tree that has the ability to grow in the shade of other trees and in competition with them.


TREE FARM — A privately owned forest or woodland in which timber crop production is a major management goal.


TREE SPACING — The distance between trees, which is most often regulated at the time of planting or during a harvest or thinning operation.


UNDERSTORY — The layer formed by the crowns of smaller trees in a forest.


WATER BAR — A diagonal ditch or hump in a trail that diverts surface water runoff to minimize soil erosion.


UNEVEN-AGED MANAGEMENT — The practice of managing a forest by periodically selecting and harvesting individual trees or groups of trees from the stand while preserving its natural appearance.


WATER CONTROL — Management of water to maintain plant growth, water quality, wildlife habitat, and fire control.


WATERSHED — An area where all water running off the land drains to a specific location. Sometimes called basin.


WILDLIFE — A broad term that includes non domesticated vertebrates, especially mammals, birds, and fish.


WILDLIFE MIXTURE — A mixture of seed such as lespedeza, cowpea, and soybeans that is beneficial to wildlife.


WINDROW — A long, narrow row of vegetation, debris, and some soil created during site preparation and clearing operations.


WINDTHROW — Trees uprooted by excessive wind.