Acre – unit of land measurement equal to 43,560 square feet or 10 square chains. 640 acres equals one square mile or one section.


Basal area – area of the cross section of tree stems, usually measured at breast height (4.5 feet above the ground) and expressed in square feet per acre.

Best management practices – state or local regulatory or non-regulatory guidelines for protecting water quality as required by federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act and Water Pollution Control Act.

Biodiversity – the variety and mix of living organisms on the Earth.

BMPs – best management practices.

Board foot – a board which is 12 inches long, 12 inches wide and one inch thick; the basic unit of measure for lumber.

Bole – trunk or stem of a tree.


Chain – a unit of linear measure equal to 66 feet; or a steel tape graduated in chains. Ten square chains equal one acre.

Chip – small piece of wood, larger and coarser than sawdust, which is used to make pulp and which comes either from wood waste in a sawmill or plywood plant, or from pulpwood cut specifically for this purpose.

Chip-n-saw – small timber of which the outer part is chipped away for use in papermaking and the inner part is sawn into lumber, usually 2x4s.

Clear-cut – harvest of all the trees in a given area.

Commercial species or commercial timber – trees which are saleable for manufacture into wood products.

Competition – any plant, including another tree, which competes with a tree for sunlight, water and/or nutrients.

Controlled burn or controlled fire – See “prescribed burn.”

Cord – unit of wood volume measurement equal to a stack of wood 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet, and often used to measure pulpwood.

Cover type – see “type”

Cronartium fusiforme – a fungus which causes the most common disease affecting southern pine trees and which can kill a tree or seriously degrade its commercial quality.

Crown – the upper part of a tree comprised of the main branches and foliage.

Cruise – a survey or sample to estimate the quantity of timber on a given area according to species, size, quality, and/or other traits.


DBH – diameter at breast height.

Deciduous – leafless for some time during the year.

Dendrology or “dendro” – the study, identification, and classification of trees.

Diameter at breast height – diameter of a tree measured 4.5 feet above the ground.

DIB – diameter inside the bark; a measure of tree or log diameter in which the thickness of the bark is discounted.

DOB – diameter of a tree or log measured outside the bark.

Doyle log rule – see “log rule”


Ecology – the study of plants and animals relationships to their environments.

Endangered species – a plant or animal species determined to be in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.


Forest type – see “type”

Forestry – a profession embracing the science, art and practice of creating, conserving and managing forests and forest lands for the continuing use of their resources.

Fusiform rust – see “cronartium fusiforme”


Game species – animals, such as deer and turkey, which are habitually hunted for food, products, and/or sport.

Geographic information system – computer software which integrates tabular and spatial data, such as tying information about a timber stand, to its location on a map.

GIS – geographic information system.


Habitat – the abode of an animal or plant, especially in relation to the environmental factors that affect it.

Hardwood – a general term for broad-leaved, deciduous trees or for their timber. This term actually has nothing to do with the hardness of the wood.

Herbicide – a chemical which kills or inhibits the growth of certain plants.


International log rule – see “log rule”

Inventory – see “cruise”




Log – the trunk of a tree after it has been felled; or a unit of measure of the length of a standing tree’s trunk, typically 12 feet for hardwoods and 16 feet for softwoods in the South.

Log rule – method of estimating the amount of lumber in board feet that can be sawn from a log. Log rules most commonly used in the South are Doyle, International, and Scribner.


Marking – a loose term that generally means putting a symbol or designation on trees, usually with paint and usually to denote the boundary of a forest area or to designate trees for cutting.

MBF – one thousand board feet.

Merchantable height – the height to which a tree stem is saleable.

Merchantable timber – a loose term meaning trees of commercial species which are saleable.

Merchantable top – on the small end of a log, the smallest diameter to which it can be sold or utilized.

Monoculture – tree crop of a single species.


National Forest – federal forest lands set aside by the government to be administered for a variety of purposes, including timber production, wildlife management, and recreation. National Forests are administered by the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

National Park – federal land set aside by the government for the use and enjoyment of the country’s citizens. National Parks usually have a particular scenic attraction and except under unusual conditions do not allow timber harvesting. They are administered by the National Park Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Natural stand or natural timber – trees which were established naturally rather than planted.

Naval stores – an historical term, derived from the days when wooden vessels were caulked with tar and pitch, which is still used loosely for certain chemicals extracted from wood, especially resin products such as turpentine.

NIPE – non-industrial private forest.

Non-game species – animals, such as songbirds, which are not habitually hunted for food, products and/or sport.

Non-industrial private forest – forest land owned by farmers and other individuals or corporations that do not also operate wood-processing plants. These lands comprise the majority of forests in the South.


Old field stand – planted or natural timber, usually pine, that grows on old agricultural fields.

Oriented strand board – a panel-type wood product made from narrow strands of wood oriented in alternating layers lengthwise and crosswise, and bonded together with resin.

OSB – oriented strand board.


Paperboard – stiff cardboard made from layers of paper or pulp compressed into a sheet.

Parallel strand lumber or parallam – a lumber-like structural wood product made by gluing together long strands of wood cut from softwood veneer.

Particleboard – generic term for panel-type products made from wood particles mixed with resins and formed into a solid panel.

Pesticide – any chemical used to control injurious plants or animals.

Pine – any of the various softwoods of the genus Pinus.

Plantation – a manmade forest or tree crop established by planting seedlings or sowing seed.

Plat – a map of a piece of land, typically showing lengths and bearings of its surveyed boundaries.

Plywood – a panel-type wood product made from veneer in alternating layers lengthwise and crosswise, in combination with a core of lumber of particleboard and bonded together with adhesive.

Prescribed burn or prescribed fire – planned use of fire as a forest management tool. In the South it is most commonly used for debris reduction in site preparation, control of competition in pine stands, and reduction of fuels that pose a wildfire hazard.

Premerchantable timber or “premerch” – a loose term meaning trees of commercial species which have not grown large enough to be saleable.

Procurement – See “wood procurement”

Pulp – Soft, moist mass of wood fiber used in paper manufacture. Pulp is made by reducing wood chips to fibers, either mechanically or chemically, then mixing them with water.

Pulpwood – Loose term for trees or logs used to make pulp and paper. Typically pulpwood is too small or too low in quality to be used for lumber or plywood.



Range – the geographical area within which a species occurs, usually referring to the area in which it occurs naturally.

Reconstituted wood – wood products made from wood fibers or particles.

Reforestation – the process of re-establishing a forest after it has been logged or has been destroyed by natural forces like wildfire or disease. Reforestation is accomplished using a variety of methods such as site preparation, planting seedlings, and controlling competition.


Sawtimber – loose term for trees or logs which are of sufficient size and quality to be sawn into lumber.

Scribner log rule – see “log rule”

Seedling – a young tree grown from seed, generally referring to one grown for one or two years in a nursery, for reforestation purposes.

Silvics – study of the characteristics and life history of forest trees and stands.

Silviculture – the science and art of cultivating forests to achieve management objectives.

Site – an area considered in terms of its environment, particularly in reference to the type and quality of vegetation it can support. “Site” is roughly synonymous with “habitat.”

Site class or site index – a measure of a forest site’s productivity or its potential to grow timber, based on the height of the trees at a specified age.

Site preparation or site prep – the process of preparing an area for planting by removing unwanted vegetation and debris, typically accomplished by using prescribed fire, herbicides and/or mechanical devices.

Site quality – a loose term referring to the productivity of a site.

SMZ – streamside management zone.

Softwood – a general term for trees which have needle-like or scale-like leaves and which often are cone-bearing. This term actually has nothing to do with the softness of the wood.

Southern pine or southern yellow pine – a species group comprised of the major commercial pine species of the South: loblolly, slash, longleaf and shortleaf.

Southern pine beetle – a small insect that bores into live pine tree bark to lay eggs, and whose larvae feed under the bark and eventually kill the tree. This beetle is the most serious insect pest of southern pines.

Stand – a group of trees sufficiently uniform in composition, age and/or condition as to form a management entity and be distinguishable from adjoining groups of trees.

Stocking – the quantity of trees in a specific area, sometimes expressed in terms of percentage of maximum capacity; or the releasing of wildlife into a given habitat for establishment or replenishment purposes.

Streamside management zone – land area adjacent to a body of water that is managed to prevent or minimize degradation of water quality.

Stumpage – standing timber, or timber “on the stump.”


Thinning – harvest of part of an immature timber stand in order to accelerate the growth and improve the average quality of the remaining stand.

Timber – Standing trees or stumpage.

Tract – a defined area of parcel land; a property.

Type – classification of timberland based on the species and source of trees present.

Type map – loose term for a map showing the types of timber stands and sometimes the other features of a property such as roads, streams, and open fields.



Veneer – thin sheets of wood of uniform thickness, made by peeling, sawing, or slicing.


Wetland – low-lying areas like marshes or swamps which are saturated with water for extended periods. Wetlands are considered to have many environmental benefits and are protected by various regulations.

Wilderness – a wild and undeveloped area essentially unaffected by man; or an area designated by law to be left in a natural state.

Wildfire – free-burning, non-prescribed fire.

Wildlife – a loose term generally meaning non-domesticated animal life, particularly mammals, birds, and fish.

Wood procurement – loose term for the acquisition of wood, in the form of stumpage, logs and/or chops, for use in wood products manufacture.

Wood pulp – See “pulp”




Glossary Of Forestry Terms was presented by Kate Robie to “Forestry for Non-Forestry Professionals” Georgia Center for Continuing Education University of Georgia, Athens, GA Tuesday, April, 18, 1995


Terminology of Forest Science, Technology, Practice and Products, edited by F.C. Ford-Robertson and Robert K. Winters. Published 1971 with 1977 addendum, Society of American Foresters, 5400 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301-897-8720.

Terms of the Trade, Third Edition, edited by David S. Evans. Published 1993, Random Lengths Publications, P.O. Box 867, Eugene, OR 97440-0867, 503-686-9925.