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We’ve gathered some useful information and definitions here to help introduce you to the industry. Or feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.
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Basal Area (BA): (individual tree) the cross-sectional area of a single stem, measured at breast height (4.5’ above the ground); (per acre) the sum of the basal areas of the trees on an acre; measure of forest density.
Boardfoot (Bd Ft): the amount of wood contained in a board 1” thick, 12” long, and 12” wide.
Bolt: a short log (8’in length); used for pulp.
Butt Log: first (bottom) log on a tree.
Chain: a unit of length equal to 66 feet.
Clearcutting: silvicultural treatment that removes most of the trees all trees in a single harvest. The treatment is designed to regenerate the stand by providing maximum light to the forest floor.
Cohort: a group of trees that develops after a disturbance (natural or anthropogenic).
Commercial Thinning: removal of smaller trees that generates enough funds equal to or greater the cost of treatment.
Coppice: sprouts at base of tree, common if tree is cut or damaged.
Cord: a stack of wood that measures 4’ x 4’ x 8’, equal to 128 ft3.
Crop Tree: tree selected to become part of a future commercial harvest.
Cruise: a forest sampling procedure used to obtain inventory information.
Cubic Foot: a unit of volume that measures 1’ x 1’ x 1’.
Diameter At Breast Height (DBH, dbh): diameter of the tree stem measured at breast height (4.5’) from the ground.
Dominant: tree that is part of the upper layer of the canopy.
Ecosystem: term for all of the biotic and abiotic components of a spatially explicit homogenous area.
Even-Aged Stand: a stand of trees composed of a single age class (within 20 years of each other).
Group Selection: silvicultural treatment in which trees are removed in small groups (0.5 ac to 2 ac) used to establish new age classes / cohorts.
Growth: increase (increment) over a given period of time.
Growing Stock: volume or number of commercial species in a forested area.
Habitat: environmental components (food, water, and shelter) necessary for wildlife or plant survival.
Hardwood: term for broadleaf, deciduous trees, e.g. oaks, maples, ash.
Highgrade: removal of desirable trees only in a stand without regards for future composition – not a silvicultural treatment.
Intermediate Treatment: removal of undesirable trees designed to enhance the growth, quality, vigor, and composition of the stand prior to final harvest.
Mast: he fruit of trees used for food by wildlife. May be hard, e.g. acorns, hickories, or soft, e.g. hackberries, cherries.
Mature: tree that has attained most of its potential growth.
Mechanical Thinning: removal of trees by machinery, typically in rows or strips.
Merchantable Height: point at which tree height is classified it as salable- varies throughout the country, but typically > 8’.
Poletimber: tree size between a sapling and a sawtimber tree (5-10” dbh).
Precommercial Thinning: removal of trees that does not generate an income but used to improve future stand growth by reducing competition.
Pulpwood: wood used for pulp, typically of lower quality and /or smaller size.
Regeneration: seedlings or saplings in a stand.
Regeneration Method: a harvest by which new seedlings are established.
Release: thinning designed to remove competition from smaller trees.
Rotation: period between establishment of regeneration and harvest in an even-aged system.
Salvage Cut: harvest of dead, dying, or damaged, trees before they deteriorate.
Sapling: small tree, larger than a seedling but smaller than a pole (1-5” in dbh).
Sawlog: a log that meets minimum standards of length, diameter, and quality for sawing into lumber – size varies by region.
Seed Tree: tree left standing after a harvest to provide seed for regeneration.
Seedling: small tree, < 4.5’ tall.
Shade Tolerance: the ability of tree to grow in shade, some tree have little shade tolerance, e.g. aspen, others are very tolerant, e.g. American beech.
Shelterwood: silvicultural treatment that removes about half of the overstory basal area. This treatment is used to regenerate tree species that prefer semi-shaded environment, as opposed to full sun. Once regeneration is established, the remaining overstory may be removed.
Silviculture: the art and science of growing trees on a sustainable basis.
Single Tree Selection: silvicultural treatment that removes individual trees of all size classes throughout the stand. Remaining trees are then provided enough space to regenerate and move into the overstory. This treatment is popular among landowners, but not appropriate for many forest systems that require more light to reach the forest floor to regenerate desirable tree species. Furthermore, if implemented incorrectly, this treatment can easily turn into highgrading.
Site Index: average height of dominant and co-dominant trees of a single species at a given (base) age for an even-aged stand. Site index is used as a proxy for site quality.
Site Preparation: manipulation of site, either by hand or mechanized equipment that is designed to improve tree regeneration.
Skidding: process of dragging downed trees or logs to a processing area.
Slash: the excess material, e.g. treetops and limbs, that is left on the ground following a silvicultural treatment or as a result of a storm.
Softwood: term for coniferous trees, e.g. pines, firs, larch, as well as species such as juniper and yews.
Stand: area of timberland that is either contiguous in vegetation type or marked by distinguishable landscape characteristics, such as a road, ridge, stream, etc.
Stand Density: a measure of growing stock commonly expressed in terms of number of trees, basal area, or volume per unit area.
Stumpage: the value of standing trees in a forest.
Stumpage Price: price paid for standing trees, i.e. before they are cut down.
Thinning: silvicultural treatment designed to reduce stand density of trees to improve growth, manipulate species composition, or enhance forest health.
Timber Stand Improvement (TSI): management practice that increases the value or regeneration in a stand. Pruning, thinning, and prescribed burning are considered TSI.
Uneven-Aged Stand: stand in which three or more age classes are represented.
Veneer: thin (< 1/4") sheet of wood produced by rotary cottoning (peeling) or slicing. Used to make plywood, furniture, and flooring.
Yield: total amount available for harvest at a given time.
Scott Lindsey, ALC, RLI, QVM
United Country's International Director of Timberland
As one of the top real estate professionals in the company and a forester, Scott is here to help make your decision process easier. Please reach out on any timber questions you may have.