Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada
Natural Resources and Renewables


Module 4: Woodlots and Wildlife


Adaptability: The evolution of features that make a group of organisms better suited to live and reproduce in their environment.

Bacteriologist: A person that studies bacteria.

Basal area: The cross-sectional area of a tree at breast height expressed in square metres (m2), BA = 0.00007854 x Diameter Breast Height 2. This term can also be the combined basal area of all trees in a given area, expressed in square metres per hectare (m2/ha). It is a measurement to help calculate sustainable timber yield.

Biodiversity (biological diversity): Refers to the variety of life on 3 different levels: the variety of ecosystems (ecosystem diversity), the variety of species (species diversity) and the variety within species (genetic diversity).

Bog: a nutrient poor, acidic wetland. The source of most water is through precipitation. Peat accumulates on bogs.

Carnivore: An animal that eats other animals.

Cavity Tree: Living or dead trees with natural or excavated holes or cavities.

Clearcutting: A forest management method that involves the complete felling and removal of a stand of trees.

Climax community: A relatively stable and undisturbed plant community that has evolved through stages and adapted to its environment.

Climax forest: Plant community dominated by trees representing the culminating stage of natural succession for that specific locality and environment.

Climax species: Plant species that will remain essentially unchanged in terms of species composition for as long as the site remains undisturbed.

Clinometer: Hand instrument used by foresters and timber cruisers to measure vertical angles. Such angles, when correlated with specific distances, indicate the height of standing trees

Coarse Woody Debris: Sound and rotting logs and stumps that provides habitat and a source of nutrients for soil development.

Conk: Visible fruiting body of a wood-destroying fungus, usually indicating rot in the underlying wood.

Cover: A hiding place or vegetative shelter for wildlife from predators or inclement weather.

Decomposer: An organism that breaks down the tissue and/or the structures of dead organisms.

Deer Yard: Softwood cover that provides cover for deer in winter.

Ecodistrict: A part of an ecoregion characterized by distinctive geologic, soil, water, fauna and land use.

Ecoregion: A part of an ecozone characterized by distinctive regional ecological factors, including climate, physiography, vegetation, soil, water and fauna.

Edge: A loosely defined type of habitat that occurs at the boundary between two different habitat types.

Endangered: A species that is in danger of extinction.

Even-aged: A forest stand or type in which relatively small age differences (10-20 yr) exist between individual trees.

Extinct: No longer existing.

Extirpated: Refers to the local extinction of a species but exists elsewhere.

Fen: A peat wetland typically covered by sedges, having a saturated water regime, and having an open drainage system. Fens appear similar to bogs but are distinguished by watercourses that pass through them.

Food Chain: A number of organisms forming a series through which energy is passed. At the base of the chain (the producer, or first trophic level) there is always a green plant or other autotroph that traps energy, almost always from light, and produces food substances, thereby making energy available for the other (consumer) levels. Any natural community will have many interlinked food chains that make up a food web or food cycle.

Forest canopy: The more or less continuous cover of branches and foliage formed collectively by the crowns of adjacent trees.

Forest Interior Species: Species that occupy habitats away from edges.

Forest type: A group of forest areas or stands whose similar composition (species, age, height, and density) differentiates it from other such groups.

Gene: A discrete unit of hereditary information consisting of a specific sequence of DNA.

Generalist Species: Organisms that can survive under a variety of conditions.

Geographic Information System (GIS): An organized collection of computer hardware, software and geographic data designed for capturing, storing, updating, manipulating, analyzing and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.

Green list: A list generated by the Nova Scotia Wildlife Division that indicates the status of a species. Species are placed on the Green List when they are not considered to be at risk. Populations are stable and key habitats are generally secure.

Group-selection method: A method of regenerating uneven-aged stands in which trees are removed in small groups.

Habitat: The environment in which a population or individual lives; includes not only the place where a species is found, but also the particular characteristics of the place (e.g., climate or the availability of suitable food and shelter) that make it especially well suited to meet the life cycle needs of that species.

Harvest: means a forestry operation that removes primary forest products from an area of forest land, but does not include the removal of Christmas trees or a forestry operation whose primary purpose is to convert the land to a non-forestry use. (WH&WPR definition)

Herbaceous: Having little or no woody tissue. Most plants grown as perennials or annuals are herbaceous.

Herbivore: Literally, an organism that eats plants.

Hibernacula: A secure area, usually a cave or a den of some sort, used by hibernating animals while in a state of torpor. Most hibernacula are dark and secluded so as to keep the hibernating animal out of harms way from predators or human disturbance.

High Grading: A harvesting technique that removes only the biggest and most valuable trees from a stand and provides high returns at the expense of future growth potential. Poor quality, shade-loving trees tend to dominate in these continually high-graded sites.

Home-range size: An individual species' requirement for space. Both the size of an organism and its lifestyle determine its space requirements.

Insectivore: Literally, an organism that eats insects.

Inventory (forest): A survey of a forest area to determine such data as area, condition, timber, volume and species for a specific purpose, such as planning, purchasing, evaluating, managing or harvesting.

Landscape: Areas of land that are distinguished by differences in landforms, vegetation, land use, and aesthetic characteristics.

Legacy Clump: Groups of uncut trees left within harvests. The clumps provide present and future wildlife trees and provide a reservoir for organisms to survive until the forest again matures.

Limiting factor: A cause that alone or in combination with other causes prevents a population from increasing. Such causes might include mortality or physical and behavioral causes that limit reproduction.

Marking: The physical process of marking selected trees to be cut or left during a harvest.

Mast: Fruits or nuts used as a food source by wildlife. Soft mast includes most fruits with fleshy coverings, such as raspberries, or fruit of dogwood or mountain ash. Hard mast refers to nuts such as acorns and seeds such as in conifer cones.

Mature tree: A tree that has reached a desired size or age for its intended use. Size, age, or economic maturity varies depending on the species and intended use.

Meadow: a grassland area, usually low-lying and having moist soil.

Mortality Factor: A cause of mortality such as predation, accidents, disease, starvation.

Mycorrhizal Fungi: A beneficial group of fungi that live in and around the roots of plants.

Niche: The portion of the environment that a species occupies, defined in terms of the conditions under which an organism can survive.

Old growth stands: Forests distinguished by old trees and related structural attributes. Old growth encompasses the later stages of stand development which typically differ from earlier stages in a variety of characteristics that may include tree size, accumulations of large dead woody material, number of canopy layers, species composition, and ecosystem function. The age at which old growth develops and the specific structural attributes that characterize old growth will vary widely according to forest type, climate, site conditions and disturbance regime. For example, old growth in fire-dependent forest types may not differ from younger forests in the number of canopy layers or accumulation of down woody material. However, old growth is typically distinguished from younger growth by several of the following structural attributes:
  -  Large trees for species and site.
  -  Wide variation in tree sizes and spacing.
  -  Accumulations of large-size dead standing and fallen trees that are high relative to earlier stages.
  -  Decadence in the form of broken or deformed tops or bole and root decay.
  -  Multiple canopy layers.
  -  Canopy gaps and understory patchiness

Omnivore: Literally, an organism that will eat anything. Refers to animals that eat both plants and animals.

Photosynthesis: The conversion of light energy to chemical energy that is stored in glucose and other organic compounds.

Pioneer Species: Species quick to populate a disturbed area. Usually have efficient dispersal adaptations.

Plantation: A stand of trees that has been grown through direct seeding or by planting seedlings.

Primary Excavator: Usually refers to woodpeckers that create cavities in trees and later occupied by secondary nesters.

Primary Producer: Usually a photosynthetic organism that ultimately provides food to all other levels.

Red list: A list generated by the Nova Scotia Wildlife Division that indicates the status of a species. Species are placed on the Red List when current knowledge suggests that these species are at risk. These species have declined, or are in immediate danger of declining, to nonviable population sizes.

Regeneration: The continuous renewal of a forest stand. Natural regeneration occurs gradually with seeds from adjacent stands or with seeds brought in by wind, birds, or animals. Artificial regeneration involves direct seeding or planting.

Riparian forest: At a large scale, it is the band of forest that has a significant influence on a stream ecosystem or is significantly affected by the stream. At a smaller scale, it is the forest at the immediate water's edge, where some specialized plants and animals form a distinct community.

Riparian area: The land adjacent to the normal high water line in a stream, river or lake, extending to the portion of land that is influenced by the presence of the adjacent ponded or channeled water. Riparian areas typically exemplify a rich and diverse vegetative mosaic reflecting the influence of available surface water.

Selection cutting: Annual or periodic cutting of trees in a stand in which the trees vary markedly in age. The objective is to recover the yield and maintain an uneven-aged stand structure, while creating the conditions necessary for tree growth and seedling establishment. Differs from selective cutting, in which the most valuable trees are harvested without regard for the condition of the residual stand.

Secondary nester: Refers to animals that occupy woodpecker nesting holes following woodpeckers.

Shade Tolerant: Tree relatively capable of developing and growing normally in the shade of, and in competition with, other trees.

Single tree selection: The selection of individual trees for harvesting.

Snag: A dead, but standing tree from which the leaves and most of the branches have fallen.

Special Concern: Similar to vulnerable.

Special Management Zone: means an area of forest required to be established adjacent to a watercourse in accordance with Sections 5 and 6 to protect the watercourse and bordering wildlife habitat from the effects of forestry operations. (WH&WPR definition)

Specialist Species: An organism that is adapted to a lifestyle specific to a particular set of conditions.

Stand: A community of trees possessing sufficient uniformity in composition, age, arrangement, or condition to be distinguishable from the forest or other growth on adjoining areas, thus forming a silvicultural or management entity.

Stream: A general term for a body of flowing water; natural water course containing water at least part of the year.

Streambed: The channel through which a natural stream of water runs.

Streambed: means that portion of a watercourse within a defined flow channel containing predominantly mud, silt, sand, gravel or rock. (WH&WPR definition)

Streambed undercut: A measure of the furthest point of protrusion of the bank to the furthest undercut of the bank. Streambank undercut provides cover for fish and may be conducive to producing high biomass of fish. Undercut is a good indicator of how successfully streambanks are protected under alternative and uses, such as livestock grazing and road building.

Succession: (1) Changes in the species composition of an ecosystem over time, often in a predictable order. In forests, it refers to the sequence of one community of plants gradually replacing another. (2) A term that may refer to plants or animals, succession is a progressive series of changes in the plant and animal life of a community from initial colonization to the establishment of a climax or final stage in which the plant or animal attains equilibrium with the environment.

Sustainable forest management: Management that maintains and enhances the long-term health of forest ecosystems for the benefit of all living things while providing environmental, economic, social and cultural opportunities for present and future generations.

Stratification: division of a forest, or any ecosystem, into distinct layers (or strata) of vegetation.

Threatened species: A species that is likely to become endangered if certain pressures are not reversed.

Tree, Dominant: The overstory tree species in a plant community which contributes the most cover or basal area to the community, compared to other life form or species.

Tree, Co-dominant: More than one dominant overstory tree species.

Tree, Sub Dominant: Trees species growing under dominant overstory tree species.

Tree, Super Dominate: Trees that protrude above the dominant tree canopy. For example, tall white pine growing above a closed canopy hardwood forest.

Uneven-aged management: The practice of managing a forest by periodically selecting and harvesting individual trees or groups of trees from the stand while preserving its natural appearance

Uneven-aged stand: A forest stand composed of trees of different ages and sizes.

Vernal: Refers to non-permanent wetlands that are usually water filled in springtime.

Vulnerable species: A species that is considered at risk because it exists in low numbers or in restricted ranges, due to loss of habitat or other factors.

Watercourse: means the bed and shore of a river, stream, lake, creek, pond, marsh, estuary or salt-water body that contains water for at least part of each year. (WH&WPR definition)

Wedge Prism: A forestry instrument used to measure basal area.

Understorey: The lower level of vegetation in a forest. Usually formed by ground vegetation (mosses, herbs and lichens), herbs and shrubs, but may also include subdominant trees.

Vertical diversity: A term used to describe forest structure, proceeding vertically through a forest canopy.

Yellow list: A list generated by the Nova Scotia Wildlife Division that indicates the status of a species. Species are placed on the Yellow list if they are considered species that are not currently at risk but may require special management to address concerns related to naturally low populations, limited provincial distributions or demographic/life history features that make them vulnerable to human-related changes in the environment.