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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Abbreviation for the diameter of a tree at breast height (1.3 metres above ground level). Also see basal area.


Plants that shed their leaves annually.


Name for organisms that break down dead and decaying organisms in the process of decomposition.


Clearing of forested areas. Also see clearing, reforestation.

Dicotyledons (dicots)

One of the two sub classes of flowering plants. There are two (di) cotyledons, or seed leaves, present in the seeds of these plants.


The eventual death of trees from environmental stresses, such as pest attack, exposure to fungal disease, increasing soil salinity & human-induced changes.

DNA (Deoxy Ribonucleic Acid)

Spiral chains (double helix) of nucleic acids, joined in pairs that form chromosomes, responsible for carrying the genetic makeup of an organism.

Drainage line

A discernible natural depression along which surface water runoff concentrates and flows towards a stream, drainage plain or swamp. Also see filter strip.

Dry sclerophyll forests

Open forests that are found in drier regions, well adapted to fire and low moisture. Leaves are hard textured with fewer pores to minimise water loss.

Dryland salinity

Accumulation of salt in soil and water of non-irrigated areas; caused by clearing trees and vegetation on outflow zones for saline water tables.