Glossary of terms

Access (for public) open OPEN

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

Accreditation service open OPEN

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.

Ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW) open OPEN

See Woodland.

Ancient woodland open OPEN

See Woodland.

Ancient woodland site open OPEN

See Woodland.

Appropriate Assessment open OPEN

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) open OPEN

A designated site providing statutory protection for the best examples of the flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features of Northern Ireland. ASSIs also underpin other national and international nature conservation designations.

Biodiversity open OPEN

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

Biological control agent open OPEN

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 open OPEN

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

Broadleaves open OPEN

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

Also see Conifers.

Buffer open OPEN

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 open OPEN

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 open OPEN

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 open OPEN

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.

Clearfelling open OPEN

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.

Compliance open OPEN

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

Conformance open OPEN

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

Conifers open OPEN

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

Also see Broadleaves.

Coppice open OPEN

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

Also see Short rotation coppice.

Coppice with standards open OPEN

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.

Coupe open OPEN

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

Cultural features open OPEN

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

Deadwood open OPEN

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.

Diffuse pollution open OPEN

Diffuse pollution comes from non-point source, widespread activities in the forest environment. Of particular relevance to woodland operations are oil spills and leaks, cutting-chain lubricants, siltation of water-courses, pesticide or fertiliser run-off and smoke.

Drainage open OPEN

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

Ecological integrity open OPEN

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

Ecosystem open OPEN

A community of plants and animals (including humans) interacting with each other and the forces of nature.

Ecosystem services open OPEN

The benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include:

  • provisioning services such as food, forest products and water
  • regulating services such as regulation of floods, drought, land degradation, air quality, climate and disease
  • supporting services such as soil formation and nutrient cycling; and
  • cultural services and cultural values such as recreational, spiritual, religious and other non-material benefits.
Environmental appraisal open OPEN

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

Environmental impact assessment open OPEN

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

Environmental values open OPEN

The following set of elements of the biophysical and human environment:

  • Ecosystem functions (including carbon sequestration and storage)
  • Biological diversity
  • Water resources
  • Soils
  • Atmosphere
  • Landscape values (including cultural and spiritual values).

The actual worth attributed to these elements depends on human and societal perceptions.

Felling licence open OPEN

Licence issued by the relevant forestry authority to permit trees to be felled. With certain exceptions it is illegal to fell trees without prior approval.


Food and Environment Protection Act 1985.


Forest Industry Safety Accord.

Forest open OPEN

Synonymous with woodland.

See Woodland.

Forest management unit (FMU) open OPEN

Synonymous with woodland management unit.

See Woodland management unit (WMU).

Forest resilience open OPEN

The ability of a forest system to recover from short-term disturbances or to adapt to long-term changes, such as climate change, pests or diseases, while retaining or recovering the same basic structure and ways of functioning. Resilience should be considered in both ecological and economic terms.

Forestry open OPEN

The science and art of managing woodlands.

Forestry authority(ies) open OPEN

The competent body with responsibility for the regulation of forestry in each country of the United Kingdom: Forestry Commission England, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development/Northern Ireland Forest Service, Forestry Commission Scotland and Welsh Government/Natural Resources Wales or their successor bodies.

Forestry leaseholder open OPEN

The holder of a forest lease that grants control over the management of forestry operations.

Game open OPEN

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

Genotype open OPEN

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

Glade open OPEN

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

Group Selection open OPEN

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

High conservation value open OPEN

Areas and features of ecological and biodiversity interest identified in sections 4.1-4.3 and 4.5.

Historic environment open OPEN

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.

Horticultural open OPEN

In relation to section 2.13.3 on Christmas trees: intensive production on a small or large scale in a setting that cannot reasonably be considered to be a forest or woodland.

Interested parties open OPEN

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

International agreement open OPEN

An agreement under international law entered into by sovereign states and international organisations 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) open OPEN

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

IUCN Red List open OPEN

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.

Landscape level open OPEN

The level of the landscape unit.

Landscape unit open OPEN

An area of broadly homogeneous landscape character.

Large enterprise open OPEN

An organisation with at least 250 employees.

Local Authority open OPEN

See Statutory body.

Local people open OPEN

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 open OPEN

Individual, stable stands and clumps of trees retained for environmental benefit significantly beyond the age or size generally adopted by the woodland enterprise.

Lop and top open OPEN

Woody debris from cutting operations, sometimes converted into chippings.

Low-intensity managed woodland open OPEN

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.

Lower-impact silvicultural systems (LISS) open OPEN

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 open OPEN

See Woodland management plan.

Minimum intervention open OPEN

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) open OPEN

A designated site containing examples of some of the most important natural and semi-natural terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, managed to conserve their habitats or to provide special opportunities for scientific study of the habitats, communities and species represented within them. In addition, they may be managed to provide public recreation that is compatible with their natural heritage interests.

Native (species) open OPEN

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 historical 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 conditions open OPEN

Native species, associations of native species and other environmental values that are typical of the locality.

Natural reserve open OPEN

Natural reserves are predominantly wooded, usually mature and intended to reach biological maturity. They are permanently identified and in locations which are of particularly high wildlife interest or potential.  They are managed by minimum intervention unless alternative interventions have higher conservation or biodiversity value.

Non-timber woodland products (NTWP) open OPEN

Non-timber woodland products include foliage, moss, fungi, berries, seed, venison and other animal products. Also known as non-timber forest products (NTFP).

Open space open OPEN

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

Origin (of seed) open OPEN

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

Owner/manager open OPEN

The person or entity holding or applying for certification and therefore responsible for demonstrating conformance to this standard. This may be a forestry leaseholder.


Plantation on ancient woodland site.

See Woodland.

Permissive (access/use) open OPEN

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

Pesticide open OPEN

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.

Plantation open OPEN

See Woodland.

Plantation on ancient woodland site (PAWS) open OPEN

See Woodland.

Precautionary approach open OPEN

Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental damage. (Based on Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development)

Priority habitats open OPEN

Habitats identified by statutory nature conservation and countryside agencies under Section 41 (England) and Section 42 (Wales) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006, Section 2(4) of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, and Section 3(1) of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Also see Statutory body.

Priority habitats and/or species open OPEN

See Priority habitats and Priority species

Priority species open OPEN

Protected, rare and endangered species which are:

  • Identified by statutory nature conservation and countryside agencies under Section 41 (England) and Section 42 (Wales) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006, Section 2(4) of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, and Section 3(1) of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011
  • Protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • Protected under European law (European Protected Species), and/or
  • Categorised as Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List.

Also see Statutory body and IUCN Red List.

Provenance open OPEN

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.

Publicly available open OPEN

Accessible to local people or other interested parties. For example, placing material on a website or on signage, providing electronic or hard copies of documents, or making documents available for inspection at a local office. In most cases, a charge may not be made for making material publicly available. However, where a summary of material has been made publicly available free of charge, a charge to cover costs of reproduction and handling may be made if any additional material is requested.

Public Rights of Way open OPEN

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 open OPEN

Wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention.

Recreation open OPEN

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.

Regeneration open OPEN

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

Relict open OPEN

A remnant of a formerly widespread species or habitat that persists in an isolated area from a previous land-use or vegetation cover.

Remnant open OPEN

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
  • Undisturbed woodland soil profile.

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

Restocking open OPEN

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

Retentions open OPEN

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

Ride open OPEN

Permanent unsurfaced access route through woodland.

Semi-natural woodland open OPEN

See Woodland.

Shelterwood open OPEN

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) open OPEN

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) open OPEN

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

Silviculture (silvicultural) open OPEN

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

Single tree selection open OPEN

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) open OPEN

A designated site providing statutory protection for the best examples of the flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features of England, Scotland and Wales. SSSIs also underpin other national and international nature conservation designations.

Small coupe felling open OPEN

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.

Snag open OPEN

A standing dead tree that has lost its top.

Special Area of Conservation (SAC) open OPEN

Area designated under the EU Habitats Directive.

Special Protection Area (SPA) open OPEN

Area designated under the EU Birds Directive.

Spirit, conformance to open OPEN

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

Statutory body(ies) open OPEN

There are four categories:

  • The statutory nature conservation and countryside agencies: Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural Resources Wales and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency or their successor bodies
  • The statutory environment protection agencies: Environment Agency (in England), Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency or their successor bodies
  • The statutory historic environment agencies: Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, Cadw (in Wales) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency or their successor bodies
  • Local authorities responsible for a wide range of functions including highways and planning.
Thinning open OPEN

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.

Timely manner open OPEN

As promptly as circumstances reasonably allow; not intentionally postponed by the owner/manager.

Trademarks open OPEN

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

Traditional open OPEN

In relation to section 2.13.3 on Christmas trees: production on a small scale in a setting that can reasonably be considered to be a woodland.

Traditional rights open OPEN

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.

Under-planting open OPEN

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

United Kingdom (UK) open OPEN

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.

Value(s) open OPEN

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

Veteran tree open OPEN

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 open OPEN

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 open OPEN

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

Windthrow open OPEN

Uprooting of trees by the wind.

Windthrow risk open OPEN

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

Wood pasture open OPEN

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

Woodland open OPEN

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 relevant forestry authority.

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).

Woodland management plan open OPEN

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

Woodland management unit (WMU) open OPEN

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.

Workers open OPEN

All employed persons including public employees as well as self-employed persons and volunteers. This includes part-time and seasonal employees, of all ranks and categories, including labourers, administrators, supervisors, executives, contractor employees, self-employed contractors and sub-contractors and other licensed operators.