glossary of wildlife conservation terms

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woodland in berkshire

Ancient woodland
Land which has been woodland since at least AD 1600.

See "Semi-Natural Ancient Woodland" and "Replanted Ancient Woodland" below.

Ancient woodland indicator species
Plant species which are characteristic of ancient woodland; i.e. much more common within ancient woodland than in secondary woodland.

Plants flowering and fruiting in the same year as the seeds germinate, and then dying.

A place where trees or shrubs are cultivated for their educational or scientific interest.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
An area of high scenic quality designated by the Countryside Commission and the Countryside Council for Wales. These have less legal protection from development than National Parks.


Plants flowering and fruiting in the year following that in which then seeds germinate, and then dying.

A soft, fleshy fruit containing seeds without a stony wall around each.

A tree having broad leaves rather than needles, and which produces seed in a fleshy fruit or hard nut eg. oak, ash.

One of the main groups of the plant kingdom, comprising mosses and liverworts.


The uppermost layer of vegetation in woodland, or the upper foliage and branches of an individual tree.Clearfell
Removal of all trees in an area.

Community Forest
The 'Forests for the Community' initiative was launched in 1989 by the Countryside Commission and Forestry Commission, to promote the vision of forested landscapes on the doorsteps of towns and cities as places for work and leisure. Twelve Community Forests have been established in England.

Compound leaf
A leaf divided into separate leaflets, eg. Ash sp.Conifer
A tree which has needles rather than broad leaves and which typically bears cones eg. yew, pine, fir, spruce. Most conifers in Britain are not native, but have been introduced for commercial forestry.
Trees which are cut back to near ground level every few years and which grow again from the stump or stool. The many straight stems which grow from each stool are used for firewood, tools and other purposes. The word is also used as a verb, meaning "to cut coppice trees".Coppice rotation
The cycle of cutting back and regrowth in coppiced woodland, usually between 3 and 25 years.

A two-storey woodland management system where among the coppice (or "underwood") some trees are left to grow on as larger size timber ("standards").


Flowers that appear in two forms in the same species, on the same or different plants.

Dutch elm disease
Fungal tree disease first introduced to this country in the 1930s, carried by beetles. Since the 1960s it has devastated the elm population of the UK.


The interactions of animals, plants, fungi, and micro organisms with each other and the non-living world around within a defined area.

Earth Summit
International conference held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to discuss issues concerning climate change, world poverty, environment and development, the worlds forest and biodiversity.

Exotic species (non-native species)
Species from other countries not naturally found growing in Britain. (See Native Species)


A natural grouping of genera, which have important structural characters of the species in common.Follicle
A dry capsular fruit splitting down one side, containing several seeds, and derived from a single carpel. e.g. Horse chestnut.

A species, often with public appeal, that is used to promote the conservation of a habitat, e.g. water vole for river edges. 

Field layer
Layer of small non-woody herbaceous plants eg. bluebells, daffodils, ferns.


A group of species that have characters in common and are closely related.Glade
An open space in a wood.

Green Belt
An area of open land retained round a city or town over which there are wide-ranging planning restrictions upon development.


A place where animals, plants, fungi, and micro organisms live, in a wider sense it can mean an association of plants, and fungi, for example that have become linked.Herb
A plant that dies back to the ground in autumn and is not woody.

High forest
Method of woodland management to encourage straight, single-stemmed trees which are often felled for timber when mature.


A species indicative of an ecosystem or habitat. In the South East of England, covering Berkshire, examples are lowland Beech woodlands and heathland habitats.

The grouping of flowers on a plant



A species critical to the operation of an ecosystem. These are often very difficult to determine, but one possible example is that of the field vole, the main prey of very wide predators of woodland edges and farmland, such as barn owls.

Kevin Callender
The  designer and author of Wildberks - Nature conservation in the UK, contact us


Local Agenda 21 (LA21)
One of the agreements at the Earth summit, it aims to involve local people in the decision making processes involving sustainable development and wider environmental issues.

Limestone pavement
Areas of limestone broken up by deep cracks known as grykes. Grykes can harbour a wide range of species which are not found in the surrounding countryside.


Mixed woodland
Woodland made up of broadleaved and coniferous trees.


National Tree Week
An annual celebration of trees and tree planting promoted by the Tree Council.

National Nature Reserve (NNR)
Areas which represent the best examples of different kinds of countryside or contain unusual communities of plants or animals or important natural features such as rock exposures or gorges. Designated by English Nature, Countryside Council for Wales or Scottish Natural Heritage.

National Parks
The first National Park was designated in 1949 to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of certain areas whilst promoting their enjoyment by the public. There are now II National Parks in England and Wales.National Scenic Area (NSA)
Scottish designation which is comparable with the AONB designation in England and Wales.

Native species
Species which arrived in Britain in prehistoric times after the last Ice Age and before the English Channel formed.

Natural regeneration
The perpetuation of a tree or plant species without human interference, i.e. from seed, suckering etc.

Natural areas
A concept designed by English Nature and the Countryside Agency to define areas of geological and ecological homogeneity. Berkshire falls into the London Basin.



The stalk of a single flower
Plants that live for more than two years
The stalk of a leaf
Tree which is cut at eight to twelve feet above ground level and allowed to grow again from the stump to produce successive crops of wood.

Primary woodland
Land which has never been anything other than woodland since the end of the last Ice Age, although it may have been regularly harvested.



Raised bog
Raised bogs develop from valley mires where the rainfall is over 1,OOOmm per year. Here peat builds up until it is above the ground water table. The biggest may spread over hundreds of hectares and can be 6-9m higher in the centre than at the edge.

Perpetuation of a species by natural or artificial means.

Replanted ancient woodland
Ancient woodland which has at least once been cleared and replanted with new trees (usually conifers to replace broadleaves). This has generally taken place over the last 200 years.

A species that has been extinct from an area in recent times (usually for about 25 years), and may be "brought back" through appropriate conservation measures.

Open track-ways cut through woods originally for the extraction of timber. Now important conservation areas for butterflies due to the wildflowers growing their due to the increased sunlight along the woodland edge.

The wood taken from coppiced trees and used to make hurdles.


Scheduled Ancient Monument
An archaeological site of importance listed by English Heritage.Secondary woodland
Woodland formed on sites since 1600 AD which have formerly been under farmland, moorland or some other non woodland use.

Semi-natural ancient woodland
Woodland dating back to at least 1600 AD comprising mainly native species which appear not to have been planted, but which may well have been managed at some period during history.

Semi Natural Habitat
A habitat that has been modified or created by human activities, still holding species that occur naturally in the area, in which natural processes are the most significant force in their development.
Leaves or flowers without a stalk, arising directly from the stem. e.g. sessile oak, so called because of its stalkless acorns
Shelterwood system
A stand is cleared in two or more successive fellings (known as "regeneration fellings"). The new stand is established between the first and the last regeneration fellings, often by natural regeneration. Although stands are more-or-less even-aged, a two-aged structure is temporarily created during regeneration.Shrub layer
Formed by woody plants between 3 and 30 feet tall.
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
SSSI's are notified by English Nature, Countryside Council for Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage because of the presence of important plants, animals or geological or physiographical features.
A small wood or thicket.
Any population of biological organisms (e.g. human, plant, micro organism), all of which resemble one another closely in all important strucutral characters, and are normally capable of cross-breeding within the population.Stand
Trees of one type or species [e.g. coppice, alder] grouped together within a woodland.
A woodland or hedgerow tree having a single stem, and left to grow for several coppice rotations, so as to be suitable for timber.Stool
Permanent base or stump of a coppiced tree.

The gradual alteration of an area of vegetation changing by more or less natural processes, usually involving the arrival and decline of species.


Tree preservation Order (TPO)
An order made by a local planning authority which in general makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy trees without the planning authority's permission.

A mound dating from prehistoric times built over a burial place.


Layer of small trees and shrubs beneath the main tree canopy.Underwood
An alternative name for an area of coppice trees, particularly in the coppice with standards management system.

Urban habitat
Any habitat within a built up area that does not occur naturally outside it. Urban habitats will include gardens, parks, wastelands, road verges, railway tracks, cemeteries, etc., but not semi natural habitats that have survived within the urban matrix. Whilst often dismissed as being less valuable than semi natural habitats, some urban habitats exhibit a far greater biodiversity (e.g. many gardens), these are often considerable value to people for amenity, landscape and education.



Water table
Level within the ground below which the pores of soil or rock are saturated with water.
Wet flush
An area of soil in which nutrients accumulate due to water inflow.Wildwood
The original forest which developed in Britain as the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age.Windblow
Damage caused to trees by the wind.

A boundary bank surrounding a wood or subdividing it internally.