Forest Terminology Explained


While undertaking research, you or your students may come across some terms that may need explaining, so we have made it easy for you below. 

*FURTHER INFORMATION: The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (ABARES) has produced an "Australia's forests and forestry glossary" (2020) found here -

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Cable logging

Logging method based on a skyline wire cable system, used where slopes are too steep for conventional logging machinery.


The uppermost level of foliage formed by the branches and leaves of a tree.


The ability to apply knowledge in problem solving processes and innovate to create change.

Captive carbon

Once C02 has been used by a plant the carbon will stay captive (or stored) in the plant until it decomposes, is burnt or breaks down.


An element contained in all organic molecules.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

A molecule made up of one carbon atom joined to two oxygen atoms. It is a major gas in the Earth's atmosphere. Also see greenhouse gases.

Carbon sequestration

The removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere into natural or man made reservoirs, including forests and wood products.

Catchment area

A drainage area in the landscape that is the source of water for a river or reservoir. Also see drainage line.


A large molecule made up of glucose units produced naturally by plants. It provides strength to plant cell walls.


The pigment that gives plants their green colouring. It is required for the absorption of light during photosynthesis.


The lopping and removal of all or most of the tree cover and associated understorey from a forested or vegetated area.


An area where all or most of the tree cover & associated understorey have been removed & the land use changed eg. for agriculture or urban & industrial development.

Closed forest

A forest with a canopy cover of greater than 70 per cent.

Code of forest practice

Legislated rules designed to ensure that commercial timber growing & harvesting is conducted with the environmental values of a forest in mind.

Community (ecological)

An ecological unit composed of a group of organisms or a population of different species occupying a particular area usually interacting with each other and their environment.

Community (social)

A group of people who live near each other, share common interests, needs and sets of services.


The fruit of coniferous trees that contains the seeds of the plant. Also see conifers.


Evergreen trees and shrubs of the botancial group gymnosperms. These plants produce naked seeds usually in cones.


The management of the natural environment to ensure its survival. A term covering preservation, maintenance, sustainable utilisation, restoration & enhancement of the environment.

Conservation for sustainable development

Sustainable development takes account of social & ecological, as well as economic factors & the long & short term advantages & disadvantages of alternative actions.


Regrowth that grows from dormant buds under the bark of tree stumps after the tree has been felled. Eucalypts will copice. Also see lignotuber.


A small area of forest within a compartment that is harvested in a single operation.


The top of a tree or group of trees. The leaves and living branches of a tree. Also see canopy.

Crown cover

The area covered by the crowns of trees growing closely together, often expressed as a percentage for the combined crown cover of trees in a defined area.

Crown timber lands

Public land for which a jurisdiction maintains the timber rights. For example Forests NSW, Vic Forests.

Cultural heritage

Encompasses the qualities & attributes of places that have aesthetic, historic, scientific or social value for past, present or future generations.

Cypress pine forest

Softwood conifer forests found in dryer regions of Australia.