Glossary of Terms

Access (for public)

Refers to woodland and its associated land open to the public for recreational or educational use (sometimes subject to charges).

Accreditation service

An authoritative body which evaluates and recognises the competence of bodies to certify that woodland management conforms to the specific requirements of the UK Woodland Assurance Standard. Accreditation Services International (ASI) and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) both provide an accreditation service in the UK. Those bodies which are accredited are referred to as certification bodies.


Arboriculture and Forestry Advisory Group to the Health & Safety Executive.

Ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW)

See Woodland.

Ancient woodland

See Woodland.

Ancient woodland site

See Woodland.

Appropriate Assessment

Appropriate Assessment (AA) is the process and documentation associated with the statutory requirement under the EU Habitats and Species Directive.

Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI)

A statutory designation in Northern Ireland that offers statutory protection to habitats and species.


The variety of ecosystems and living organisms (species), including genetic variation within species.

Biodiversity Action
Plan(s) (BAP)

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) sets out a programme of action to conserve and enhance biological diversity throughout the UK. It includes action plans for key habitats and species, and cross-sectoral programmes to encourage biodiversity conservation within all land uses and businesses. Local Biodiversity Action Plans integrate these measures at a local or regional level.

Biological control agent

A living organism used to eliminate or regulate the population of another living organism. Their use can play an important role in an integrated pest management strategy.

Brash mats

Cut branches spread along the route where forest machinery will be driving to reduce soil damage.


Broadleaved trees are characterised by their broad leaves and most are deciduous. They produce ‘hardwood’ timber. Also see Conifers.


An area of non-invasive trees or other land use of sufficient width to protect semi-natural woodland from significant invasion by seed from a nearby non-native source.

Certification body

A body which is accredited by an accreditation service to certify (by giving written assurance) that woodland management conforms to the specific requirements of the UK Woodland Assurance Standard. Also sometimes referred to as a conformity assessment body.

Certification scheme

A scheme that establishes a set of standards and processes that govern a system to verify that its standards (e.g. for sustainable forest management and chain-of-custody) are met and thereby provide assurance to customers and stakeholders.

Chain-of-custody certification

Chain-of-custody certification is a traceability system that ensures that certified products come from a well-managed source. The chain starts at the forest and is maintained through every link of the chain through to the end user.


Cutting down of an area of woodland (if it is within a larger area of woodland it is typically a felling greater than 0.25 ha). Sometimes a scatter or small clumps of trees may be left standing within the felled area.

Common rights

Rights of Common that have been legally registered with local authorities in England and Wales.


In the context of this certification standard, the term ‘compliance’ refers to meeting legal requirements.


In the context of this certification standard, the term ‘conformance’ refers to meeting the requirements of the certification standard.


Coniferous trees are characterised by their needle or scale-like leaves and most are evergreen. They produce ‘softwood’ timber. Also see Broadleaves.


Management based on regeneration by re-growth from cut stumps (coppice stools). The same stool is used through several cycles of cutting and re-growth.

Also see short rotation coppice.

Coppice with standards

Coppice with a scatter of trees of seedling or coppice origin, grown on a long rotation to produce larger sized timber and to regenerate new seedlings to replace worn out stools.


Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.


An area of woodland that has been or is planned for clearfelling.

Cultural features

Historic environment sites, historic buildings and heritage landscapes including ancient woodlands.


Department of Agriculture and Rural Development – the government department responsible for the regulation of forestry and the management of the state woodlands in Northern Ireland.

Also see Forest Service.


All types of wood that are dead including whole or wind-snapped standing trees, fallen branch wood and stumps, decaying wood habitats on living trees such as rot holes, dead limbs, decay columns in trunks and limbs, and wood below the ground as roots or stumps.

Design Plan (Forest Design Plan)

Long term outline planting or felling and regeneration plan (20 years or more) which takes account of the environmental characteristics of the woodland as well as the management of the growing stock. The first few years planting, felling, regeneration and environmental management plans are shown in detail. For woodlands managed by the FC, referred to as a Forest Design Plan. Design plans for private woodlands are encouraged through some grant schemes.

Where a design plan is in preparation but has not received full approval at the time of the intended felling operation, an approved felling licence may constitute an acceptable short term substitute with regard to the requirement in section 3.4.2, provided that the licence application deals comprehensively with the environmental implications of the proposed felling.


An operation to remove excess water from an area in a controlled way. In woodlands, drains are usually open, unlined channels.

Ecological integrity

The health and vitality of the woodland’s physical and biological components.


A community of plants and animals (including humans) interacting with each other and the forces of nature. Balanced ecosystems are stable when considered over the long term (hundreds of years in the case of woodlands).

Environmental appraisal

Generic term for the process of assessing the impact of plans or operations on the environment.

Environmental impact assessment

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is the process and documentation associated with the statutory requirement under the EU Environmental Assessment Directive.


See Forestry Commission.

Felling licence

Licence issued by the Forestry Commission to permit trees to be felled. With certain exceptions it is illegal to fell trees in Great Britain without prior Forestry Commission approval. Similar arrangements are anticipated in Northern Ireland.


Food and Environment Protection Act 1985.

Forest management unit (FMU)

Synonymous to woodland management unit.

See Woodland management unit (WMU)

Forest Service (FS)

An agency of Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development which undertakes the regulation of forestry and the management of the state woodlands in Northern Ireland.


The science and art of managing woodlands

Forestry Commission (FC)

The government department with responsibility for the regulation of forestry and the management of the state woodlands throughout Great Britain. The abbreviations FCE, FCS and FCW refer to the FC’s divisions for England, Scotland and Wales respectively.


Animals, either wild or reared, managed for hunting or shot for food.


The genetic constitution of an organism, as contrasted with its expressed characteristics which are known as the phenotype.


Small area of open ground which forms an integral part of the woodland.

Group selection

A method of managing irregular stands in which regeneration is achieved by felling trees in small groups.


Habitat Action Plans (see Biodiversity Action Plans).

Historic environment

Several thousand years of human activity has contributed to the landscape of the UK that we experience today. The surviving elements of the past take many forms, including ancient woods and forests, veteran trees, earthworks, ruined structures and features buried below ground. Together these elements provide a rich source of information about past societies and how they used and managed the land including their woods and forests.


In relation to section 3.3.3 on Christmas trees: intensive production on a small or large scale in a setting which cannot reasonably be considered to be a forest or woodland.


Health & Safety Executive. HSE is the government body charged with ensuring that risks to people’s health and safety from work activities are properly controlled.


International Labour Organization. The ILO is the specialised agency of the United Nations which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights. The ILO formulates international labour standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations setting minimum standards for basic labour rights.

Interested parties

People directly affected by or who have a significant interest in the woodland being managed.

International agreement

An agreement under international law entered into by sovereign states and international organizations which may also be known as a treaty, protocol, covenant, convention, exchange of letters, etc. It provides a means for willing parties to assume obligations among themselves, and a party that fails to live up to their obligations can be held liable under international law. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s ‘UK Treaties Online’ database on lists those involving the UK.

Invasive (species)

Introduced non-native species which spread readily and dominate native species.


International Organization for Standardisation. ISO is the international network of national standards institutes.

ISO 14001

An international standard for environmental management systems (EMS) developed by the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO). It can be applied to any industry sector. ISO 14001 requires a company to undertake a review of its environmental impact, and based on this, to develop a policy, objectives and targets and a programme to ensure they are implemented. ISO 14001 does not set specific performance targets, other than legal compliance, and therefore sector-specific performance targets can be linked with this certification standard.

Landscape level

The level of the landscape unit.

Landscape unit

An area of broadly homogeneous landscape character.

Local Authority

See statutory body.

Local people

Anyone living or working in the vicinity who has an interest in the woodland. It is intentional that this term is not more closely defined, and the wider public is not excluded. It is particularly difficult to be precise about how local people are to be contacted or consulted. In some situations, it would be appropriate for this simply to mean those living beside the woodland (e.g. concerning noise disturbance). In other cases (such as using local services) a much wider geographical area will be appropriate. If there is difficulty in identifying local contacts, then the elected representatives should be the first choice.

Long-term retention

Trees retained for environmental benefit significantly beyond the age or size generally adopted by the woodland enterprise.

Lop and top

Woody debris from cutting operations, sometimes converted into chippings.

Low intensity managed woodland

Woodland management units are classed as being managed in a low intensity manner when:

a) the rate of timber harvesting is less than 20% of the mean annual increment (MAI) within the total production woodland area of the unit



b) the annual harvest from the total production woodland area is less than 5,000 cubic metres


c) the average annual timber harvest from the total production woodland is less than 5,000 m3/year during the period of validity of the certificate as verified by harvest reports and surveillance audits.

Note: where Woodland Management Unit-specific estimates of mean annual increment are unavailable or impracticable, regional estimates of growth rates for specific woodland types may be used.

Also see Small woodland and SLIM woodland.

Lower impact silvicultural systems

Silvicultural systems including group selection, shelterwood or under- planting, small coupe felling, coppice or coppice with standards, minimum intervention and single tree selection systems which are suitable for windfirm conifer woodlands and most broadleaved woodlands.

Management planning documentation

See Woodland management plan.

Minimum intervention

Management with no systematic felling or planting of trees. Operations normally permitted are fencing, control of exotic plant species and vertebrate pests, maintenance of paths and rides and safety work.

National Nature Reserve (NNR)

A statutory designation that offers statutory protection to habitats and species.

Native (species)

A species that has arrived and inhabited an area naturally, without deliberate assistance by man, or would occur had it not been removed through past management. For trees and shrubs in the UK this is usually taken to mean those species present after post-glacial recolonisation and before historic times. Some species are only native in particular regions. Differences in characteristics and adaptation to conditions occur more locally hence the term ‘locally native’.

Natural reserve

Natural reserves are predominantly wooded, are permanently identified and are in locations which are of particularly high wildlife interest or potential. They are managed by minimum intervention unless alternative management has higher conservation or biodiversity value.

Non-SLIM woodland

A woodland that is not classed as Small and/or subject to Low Intensity Management (‘SLIM’).

Also see Small woodland and Low intensity managed woodland.

Open space

In a woodland this includes streams, ponds and well laid-out roads and rides.

Origin (of seed)

The original natural genetic source of those trees which are native to the site.


Plantation on ancient woodland site.

See Woodland.

Permissive (access/use)

Use is by permission whether written or implied, rather than by right.


Any substance, preparation or organism prepared or used, among other uses, to protect plants or wood or other plant products from harmful organisms, to regulate the growth of plants, to give protection against harmful creatures or to render such creatures harmless.


See Woodland.

Plantation on ancient woodland site (PAWS)

See Woodland.


Location of trees from which seed or cuttings are collected. Designation of Regions of Provenance under the Forest Reproductive Materials regulations is used to help nurseries and growers select suitable material. The term is often confused with ‘origin’ which is the original natural genetic source.

Public Rights of Way

Public Rights of Way are statutory rights of way in England and Wales and are recorded on Definitive Maps held by local authorities showing whether the right of way is by foot, horse or vehicle.

In Northern Ireland, records of public rights of way are held by district councils.

Ramsar sites

Wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention.


Activity or experience of the visitor’s own choice within a woodland setting. (Facilities may sometimes be provided and charges levied for their use.) Also see Access.

Red List species

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognised as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. It provides a global context for the establishment of conservation priorities at the local level.


Renewal of woodland through sowing, planting, or natural regeneration.


The baseline of surviving ancient woodland features found in PAWS, for which there is physical or documentary evidence.

These include:

  • Woodland specialist flora. These are species with a strong affinity for ancient woodland but may vary in relation to geographic region
  • Trees originating from the pre-plantation stand. They can be maidens, standards, coppice stools or pollards and may include ancient or veteran trees
  • Deadwood originating from the pre-plantation stand, coarse woody debris and associated decomposer communities.

These features provide the continuity of habitat with the pre-plantation phase.


Replacing felled areas by sowing seed, planting or natural regeneration.


Trees retained, usually for environmental benefit, significantly beyond the age or size generally adopted by the owner for felling.


Permanent unsurfaced access route through woodland.


Species Action Plans (see Biodiversity Action Plans).

Semi-natural woodland

See Woodland.


The shelterwood system involves the felling of a proportion of the mature trees within an area whilst leaving some trees as a seed source and shelter for natural regeneration. The seed trees are subsequently removed. Note that the term ‘seed tree system’ is often used to describe ‘shelterwoods’ with densities of <50 retained mature trees per hectare.

Short rotation coppice (SRC)

Short rotation coppice (usually willow or poplar) typically grown as an energy crop and harvested every 3 years.

Also see coppice.

Short rotation forestry (SRF)

Short rotation forestry crops are typically harvested at between 8 and 20 years.

Silviculture (silvicultural)

The techniques of tending and regenerating woodlands, and harvesting their physical products.

Single tree selection

A method of managing irregular stands in which individual trees of any size are removed more or less uniformly throughout the stand.

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

A statutory designation in Great Britain that offers statutory protection to habitats and species.

SLIM woodland

A woodland that is classed as Small and/or subject to Low Intensity Management (‘SLIM’).

Also see Small woodland and Low intensity managed woodland.

Small coupe felling

A small scale clearfelling system. The system is imprecisely defined but coupes are typically between 0.5 ha and 2.0 ha in extent, with the larger coupes elongated in shape so the edge effect is still high.

Small woodland

An individual woodland of 500 ha or under in size; a small woodland of 10 ha or under is sometimes referred to as a ‘very small woodland’.


A standing dead tree that has lost its top.

Special Area for Conservation (SAC)

Area designated under the EU Habitats and Species Directive.

Special Protection Area (SPA)

Area designated under the EU Birds Directive.

Spirit, conformance to

Conformance to the spirit means that the owner/manager is aiming to achieve the principles set out in the certification standard.

Statutory body(ies)

There are four categories:

  • The statutory nature conservation and countryside agencies: Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, Countryside Council for Wales and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency
  • The statutory environment protection agencies: Environment Agency in England and Wales, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency
  • The statutory historic environment agencies: English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw (in Wales) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency
  • Local authorities responsible for a wide range of functions including highways and planning.

Tree removal, which results in a temporary reduction in basal area, made after canopy closure to promote growth and greater value in the remaining trees.


‘UKWAS’ and ‘United Kingdom Woodland Assurance Standard’ are registered trademarks.


In relation to section 3.3.3 on Christmas trees: production on a small scale in a setting which can reasonably be considered to be a woodland.

Traditional rights

Rights which result from a long series of habitual or customary actions, which have, by uninterrupted acquiescence, acquired the force of a law within a geographical or sociological unit.


The planting of young trees under the canopy of an existing stand – often combined with a shelterwood or group selection system.

United Kingdom

References to the ‘United Kingdom’ or ‘UK’ refer to the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ which comprises England, Scotland and Wales (collectively referred to as ‘Great Britain’) and Northern Ireland.


The weights given to economic, biodiversity, recreational, environmental, social and cultural impacts when considering management options.

Very small woodland

See Small woodland.

Veteran tree

A tree that is of interest biologically, culturally or aesthetically because of its age, size or condition, including the presence of deadwood micro-habitats.

Water course

Streams and rivers. References to forestry practice on adjacent land should be taken as applying also to adjacent water e.g. ponds and lakes.

Whole tree harvesting

The removal from the harvesting site of every part of the tree above ground or above and below ground.


Uprooting of trees by the wind.

Windthrow risk

A technical assessment of risk based on local climate, topography, site conditions and tree height.

Wood pasture

Areas of historical, cultural and ecological interest, where grazing is managed in combination with a proportion of open tree canopy cover.


Predominantly tree covered land whether in large tracts (generally called forests) or smaller units (known by a variety of terms such as woodlands, woods, copses and shelterbelts).

Those woodlands which are comprised mainly of locally native trees and shrubs, and have some structural characteristics of natural woodland are referred to as semi-natural woodland.

Those woodlands which are derived principally from the human activity of planting, sowing or intensive silvicultural treatment but lack most of the principal characteristics and key elements of semi-natural woodland are generally referred to as plantations or woodlands of planted origin. They often include a proportion of naturally regenerated trees and are often managed to become more like natural woodlands over time.

Woodland is referred to as ancient woodland when it has been in continuous existence since before AD 1600 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or since before AD 1750 in Scotland.

The term ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW) is used to describe those semi-natural stands on ancient woodland sites. The precise definition varies according to the local circumstances in each country within the United Kingdom and guidance should be sought from the Forestry Commission or Forest Service as appropriate.

The term ancient woodland site refers to the site of an ancient woodland irrespective of its current tree cover. Where the native tree cover has been felled and replaced by planting of tree species not native to the site it is referred to as a plantation on ancient woodland site (PAWS).

Also see Small woodland, Low intensity managed woodland and SLIM woodland.

Woodland management plan

The collection of documents, reports, records and maps that describe, justify and regulate the activities carried out by any manager, staff or organization in a management unit, including statements of objectives and policies.

Woodland management unit (WMU)

The woodland management unit (WMU) is the area to which the management planning documentation relates. A WMU is a clearly defined woodland area, or areas, with mapped boundaries, managed to a set of explicit long term objectives.