Glossary of terms related to woodland management



Ancient Woodland

Ancient woods are defined as those where there has been continuous woodland cover

since at least 1600 AD. In Scotland ancient woods are defined strictly as sites shown as semi-natural woodland on the ‘Roy’ maps (a military survey carried out in 1750 AD, which is the best source of historical map evidence) and as woodland all subsequent maps. However, they have been combined with longestablished woods of semi-natural origin (originating from between 1750 and 1860) into a single category of Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland to take account of uncertainties in their identification.  Ancient woods include Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland and plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (see below). May support many species that are only found in ancient woodland.


Ancient Semi - Natural Woodland

Stands in ancient woods defined as those consisting predominantly of native trees and shrubs that have not obviously been planted, which have arisen from natural regeneration or coppice regrowth.


Ancient Woodland Site

Stands in ancient woods that have been converted to plantations, of coniferous, broadleaved or mixed species, usually for timber production, including plantations of native species planted so closely together that any semi-natural elements of the understorey have been suppressed.


Beating Up

Replacing any newly planted trees that have died in the first few years after planting.



A tree having broad leaves (such as oak) rather than needles found on conifers (such as Scots pine).



The uppermost layer of vegetation in a woodland, or the upper foliage and branches of an individual tree.



Felling of all trees within a defined area.



Permanent management division of a woodland, usually defined on site by permanent features such as roads. See Sub-compartments.



A tree having needles, rather than broadleaves, and typically bearing cones.


Continuous Cover forestry

A term used for managing woods to ensure that there are groups or individual trees of different ages scattered over the whole wood and that some mature tree cover is always maintained. Management is by repeated thinning and no large areas are ever completely felled all at once.



Trees which are cut back to ground levels at regular intervals (3-25 years).


Exotic (non-native) Species

Species originating from other countries (or other parts of the UK) that have been introduced by humans, deliberately or accidentally.


Field Layer

Layer of small, non-woody herbaceous plants such as bluebells.


Group Fell

The felling of a small group of trees, often to promote natural regeneration or allow planting.


Long Term Retention

Discrete groups of trees (or in some cases single trees) that are retained significantly past their economic felling age. Operations may still be carried out within them and thinning is often necessary to maintain stability.


Minimum Intervention

Areas where no operations (such as thinning) will take place other than to protect public safety or possibly to control invasive exotic species.


Mixed Woodland

Woodland made up of broadleaved and coniferous trees.


National vegetation classification (NVC)

A classification scheme that allows an area of vegetation to be assigned to the standardised type that best matches the combination of plant species that it contains. All woodlands in the UK can be described as being one of 18 main woodland types (W1 - W18), which principally reflect soil and climatic conditions. For example, Upland Oakwoods are type W11, and normally occur on well drained infertile soils in the cooler and wetter north and west of Britain. Each main type can be subdivided into numerous subtypes. Most real woods contain more than one type or sub-type and

inevitably some woods are intermediate in character and can't be properly described by any sub type.


Native Species

Species that arrived in Britain without human assistance.


Natural Regeneration

Naturally grown trees from seeds falling from mature trees. Also regeneration from coppicing and suckering.


Origin & Provenance

The provenance of a tree or seed is the place where seed was collected to grow the tree or plant. The origin is the geographical location within the natural range of a species from where seeds/tree originally derives. Thus an acorn collected from a Turkey oak in Edinburgh would have an Edinburgh provenance and a southern European origin.



Re-planting an area of woodland, after it has been felled.


Shrub Layer

Formed by woody plants 1-10m tall.



The growing and care of trees in woodlands.



Trees of one type or species, grouped together within a woodland.



Temporary management division of a compartment, which may change between management plan periods.



The felling of a proportion of individual trees within a given area. The remaining trees grow to fill in the space created.


Tubex or Grow or Tuley Tubes

Tubes placed over newly planted trees or natural regeneration that promote growth and provide protection from animals such as rabbits and deer.



The control of vegetation immediately around newly planted trees or natural regeneration to promote tree growth until they become established. Either by hand cutting or with carefully selected weed killers such as glyphosate.



Trees or groups of trees blown over (usually uprooted) by strong winds and gales.