The Woodlands.co.uk Jargon Buster – Pt 2

The Woodlands.co.uk Jargon Buster – Pt 2

At woodlands.co.uk we try to avoid using jargon, but if you’ve ever felt bamboozled here’s Part 2 of our “jargon-buster”.  This week, a list of commonly-used terms.

Article 4 Direction   This is a local planning authority measure that is applied to a piece of land and limits an owner’s “permitted development” rights.  It limits the things the owner can do without planning permission and might mean that even to put in a fence the owner will need planning permission.

Beating up   This means increasing the number of successful trees a year or two after any new planting and involves going round and replacing very young trees that have died with new transplanted trees.  Not as painful as it sounds!


Brashing  This is a forester’s term meaning to cut off side branches, usually from conifer trees with the intention of reducing fire risk, improving timber quality and enabling people to walk through conifer plantations making assessment of tree growth, etc easier.  Brash piles also give shelter to wildlife.  See https://www.woodlands.co.uk/blog/wildlife/otters-and-brash-piles/


Bushcraft  Fast growing in popularity, bushcraft includes survival skills and working with natural products to make useful items such as cord, holders for pots and overnight shelters.

 Cant, Panel or Coupe   An area of underwood felled in one season. Often associated with coppicing. 

Clear Fell   This is the harvesting operation which Canadians call “clear cut” and means cutting down a crop of trees leaving very little or nothing standing.  Typically this operation is used on fairly mature conifer trees and is followed by clearance of the lop and top (see below) and replanting of the land with new, young trees.


Compartment   A section of woodland.  For practical management a woodland is often divided into areas where a particular tree species predominates.  These sections are called compartments and are a central part of the process of managing if you have a Woodland Grant Scheme agreed with the Forestry Commission.


Continuous cover  This is a method of management in which trees are removed a few at a time and the structure of the forest remains intact. See our article on continuous cover at:



Coppicing   Many trees once cut at the base will grow back vigorously and this has been a traditional way of growing small diameter wood for fuel and fencing.  Typical coppice trees are chestnut and hazel.  We have an article on coppice here:


Green lane  Has no legal meaning. It is simply a physical description of an unsurfaced track, often hedged and sometimes of considerable age. A green lane may be a footpath, a bridleway or a carriageway or may carry no public rights at all.

Ground flora   The plants that grow near the ground such as primroses, bluebells and celandine.  These can be very rich in woodland and are often overlooked because people often see woodlands through “foresters’ eyes”, and we also tend to focus too much on the on big things! Many interesting species to be seen growing in the spring when light levels are high but before deciduous trees cast summer shade. Sometimes referred to as the herb layer. Evergreen woodlands have very poor ground flora. 

High canopy   This is the layer of branches and leaves at the highest level of the forest.  The canopy gives shade and reduces growth of vegetation underneath, except for species that can thrive in shade and these in turn form the understorey (see below).


Line thinning   Areas of conifer are often planted in rows and may be thinned by taking out every third row (or whatever number is appropriate).  This leaves clear tracks, sometimes called “racks” running through the plantation.


Lop and top  The side branches and tops of trees that are left after a clear fell operation.

 Minimum or non-intervention management aims to work with the natural patterns of growth in woodlands.  

National Parks  The UK’s 14 National Parks each have their own administering National Park Authority which are independent bodies, funded by central government.  The Authorities come together under the umbrella of the UK Association of  National Park Authorities (UK ANPA).  www.nationalparks.gov.uk


Natural regeneration What happens when trees have been cleared from a site, and no further action is taken. The seed bank from the original trees produces tree seedlings, encouraged by the light, and it is believed that the woodland will eventually replace itself naturally. Often described by passers-by as “neglected scrubland”!


Nature reserve places with wildlife or geological features that are of special interest locally. These usually belong to local authorities or conservation bodies, and are open to the public.


P61   A forester’s term to refer to the year in which an area of woodland was planted.  P61 means planted in 1961.


Pollarded   In past times, when cattle were pastured amongst trees, they would inconveniently eat fresh coppice shoots. To prevent this, the coppice poles were regularly harvested above the cattle’s reach, resulting in a tree with a wide, short trunk, capped by myriad branches sprouting at the same level.


Public bridleway  A track along which the public have a right to walk or ride horses.


Public footpath   a path or track along which the public have a right to walk.   The landowner must not obstruct such routes.

 Restricted Byeway  A right of way on foot, horseback, pedal cycle or in a non-mechanically propelled vehicle such as a horse-drawn carriage. 

Ride  This just means a track, usually suitable for forestry equipment and comfortable walking.

 Scallops Places where a track widens, specifically created to admit more light for the ground vegetation and understorey. 

Singling or storing  The practice of leaving one stem on each stool when coppicing, and inhibiting the re-growth of the rest. This is to turn the coppice area into high forest (usually chestnut).


Snedding  Removing the side branches from felled trees to produce clean logs.


Wood banks  These are found usually along the edge of a wood, but sometimes deep within it. They are a valuable historical record of how ownership of the wood was demarcated in olden times. Straight wood banks are probably one to three hundred years old. Curved, irregular banks are probably medieval in origin.

Woodland management   Practice which can vary from high activity tree farming, eg sitka plantation, to multi-use woodlands, to low input woodlands for nature conservation, to pure non-intervention management letting nature’s will take over.

Understorey   The layer of vegetation below the high canopy but above the ground which may, for example, consist of hazel and shrubs.


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