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  • Writer's pictureTali Orad

Big words explained: Tree terminology

Common words you can learn that are related to tree planting

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by scientific terminology? Tree planting is a fairly simple process. However, the words and phrases we often hear that are associated with forestry are complex and may make us feel that we don’t have an understanding of the ecosystems surrounding us. Here are several common words related to tree planting that can help you feel like a tree-hugging expert!


The process of adding trees to an area that was never forested land.

Many times afforestation projects are created to serve as a method to reduce atmospheric CO2, increase soil quality, and either avoid or reverse desertification. The forests created through afforestation also provide habitat to local wildlife, create windbreaks, support soil health, and may also help improve water quality.


This process allows trees to regrow on land and is different from afforestation because the land was previously forested.


While we often attribute desertification to extensive sand dunes, it refers to any type of land that experiences drought or is unable to be used for agricultural purposes according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Human activities that contribute to desertification include the expansion and intensive use of agricultural lands, poor irrigation practices, deforestation, and overgrazing. This unsustainable land uses place enormous pressure on the land by altering its soil chemistry and hydrology.


The clearing of forested land on purpose. This is very common in tropical rainforests, according to National Geographic, in order to clear land for other uses such as palm oil, logging, or ranching purposes.


A type of land use management where people intentionally add trees into systems with crops or farming in order to maximize the economic, environmental and social benefits, according to the USDA. This is a popular management practice all around the world.

Regenerative agriculture

A farming technique used to adapt to climate change where soil layers are replenished, the water cycle is improved, and soil is essentially restored, according to Regeneration International. Some examples of this technique include not tilling land, utilizing perennial crops and much more.

Soil Fertility

The potential of soil to support plants and produce a significant amount of crops, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). By applying fertilizers, the soil can improve and support more plant life successfully.

Clear Cut

A type of logging method where a forest is cut down and replaced with tree plantations designed by humans. Usually all or most trees will be removed in the selected area at the same time, but not necessarily. The method is the most commercially attractive and thus the most typical one. Not something we would like to see.

Sustainable Wood

The process of extracting timber from properly managed forested areas in an ethical manner.

Forestry parts and pieces

Image by Nile from Pixabay

Boreal forest

This large forested area spans across multiple continents and mainly has coniferous trees such as pines, firs and spruces, according to the International Boreal Forest Research Association.

Temperate forest

A temperate forest is located between the regions of forested areas called the boreal and tropical. This area contains around 25% of the world’s forest, per National Geographic.

Tropical forest

This type of forest is located close to the equator and has warm temperatures with heavy rainfall throughout the year.


The study of past climates and Earth’s history.

Mycorrhizal Networks

Connected by mycorrhizal fungi, this underground combination of plants works to transport essentials such as nutrients, food and water. This network enables trees to communicate with one another.

Forest Bathing

This is a Japanese practice in which an individual immerses themselves in nature.


SDGs are global goals set out by the United Nations, the acronym stands for Sustainable Development Goals, whereas ESG is a rating system used by companies to measure their environmental and social credentials. The acronym is Environmental, Social, and Governance.

Carbon Sequestration

A process where carbon in the atmosphere is captured and stored. This reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, which is a common greenhouse gas. According to the United States Geological Service (USGS), trees play a role in this process by taking up carbon dioxide to carry out photosynthesis.

Human Impacts

Wangari Maathai

Maathai is a member of the Kenyan National Assembly and is the founder of a Grassroots organization called the “Green Belt Movement,” which has won the Nobel Peace Prize and has focused on reforestation projects.

The "DiCaprio tree"

Is also known as the Uvariopsis DiCaprio plant. Scientists just named a tree found in Cameroon after the actor and climate activist! The scientists say that he was "crucial in helping to stop the logging of the Ebo Forest."


Hope this helps you feel more natural in our forest now.

If there is anything else you wanted to know, leave us a comment and we'll add it!

Written with the help of Tess Fitzhenry

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