top of page

Forest Farming Glossary

Common terms used in agroforestry and forest farming.

ABFFC - Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition

AFFC - Appalachian Forest Farmer Coalition (as of March 2024)

Agroforestry - agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. Silvopasture, alley cropping, windbreaks, riparian buffers, and forest farming are agroforestry practices.

At-risk species - at-risk plant species are locally or broadly at risk of overharvest, environmental pressures or mis-management. 


Botanical - relating to plants, botany.

Botanical name - latin binomial, scientific name

Business plan - a document setting out a business's future objectives and strategies for achieving them. Forest farms by necessity require diversity, planning and investment of time and resources. Business plans are highly recommended for income producing forest farms of all sizes. Most extensions have contacts or resources to help create generic business plans, but local and regional specialized input is very helpful. 


Conservation - preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment and of wildlife.

Craft & Traditional Crafts - a skilled activity in which something is made in a traditional way with the hands rather than being produced by machines in a factory, or an object made by such an activity. Forest Farming provides several important craft goods and raw materials. 

Cultivation - cultivation is the act of caring for or raising plants.


Dendrology - the scientific study of trees.

Diversity - (Ecological biodiversity) refers to the variations in the plant and animal species living together and connected by food chains and food webs.


Edible - fit or suitable to be eaten. 

Ecology - the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings.

Ecological community - An ecological community is defined as a group of species that are commonly found together. Ecological communities may be animal or plant assemblages with similar habitat requirements and contain species which may influence each other or rely on similar processes in their environment.

Endangered species - An endangered species is a type of organism that is threatened by extinction. Species become endangered for two main reasons: loss of habitat and loss of genetic variation.

Enterprise budget - Enterprise budgets assist in understanding the costs and returns of a production activity, identifying potential sources of risk, and evaluating alternatives.

Extirpation - the state or condition of having become locally or regionally extinct


Forest canopy - In forest ecology, canopy refers to the upper layer or habitat zone, formed by mature tree crowns and including other biological organisms

Forest management - Forest management focuses on managing vegetation, restoring ecosystems, reducing hazards, and maintaining forest health.


Forest - A forest is an area of land dominated by trees.

Forester - Foresters oversee forest land, manage budgets, create plans for forestry projects, and supervise forest and conservation technicians and workers.

Forest farming - Forest farming is the cultivation of high-value crops under the protection of a managed tree canopy.

Food forest - A food forest, also called a forest garden, is a diverse planting of edible plants that attempts to mimic the ecosystems and patterns found in nature.


Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) - Appropriate production practices, careful harvesting, and proper storage, and transport all contribute to good produce quality after harvesting.

Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) - a system for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.

Guild - In Permaculture, a guild is a grouping a plants, trees, animals, insects, and other components that work together to help ensure their health and productivity.


Herbivore - an animal that feeds on plants.

Harvest - the process or period of gathering in crops. In forest farming, several types of harvest occur including the traditional root harvest that usually takes place in autumn, leaf or flower harvest.


Indicator species - An indicator species is an organism whose presence, absence or abundance reflects a specific environmental condition.

Indigenous - originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native.

Invasive species - An invasive or alien species is an introduced species to an environment that becomes overpopulated and harms its new environment.


Latin binomial - botanical name, i.e. American ginseng is Panax quinquifolius.


Medicinal plant - Medicinal plants can be defined as the plants that possess therapeutic properties or exert beneficial pharmacological effect on the human or animal body.


Nursery (botanical) - place where plants are grown for transplanting, for use as stock for budding and grafting, or for sale.

Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP) - products that originate from trees or plant parts but are not derived from timber.

Native species - a native species is indigenous to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only local natural evolution (though often popularised as "with no human intervention").


Permaculture - an approach to land management and design that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems. 

Poaching (plants)- plant poaching involves the illegal removal of plants and plant parts. RE: THEFT

Population -  the number of plants in a given unit or area of land.

Post Harvest handling - In agriculture and agroforestry, postharvest handling is the stage of production immediately following harvest, including cooling, cleaning, sorting and packing.

Post Harvest recovery - the amount of time it takes a harvested population to recover from the removal of plant material.

Predation (herbivory) - the action of species that browse/eat forest plants and crops, thereby damaging or removing plants.  


Restoration - actions to recreate and reinstate ecological processes, forest structure, ecological functioning and biodiversity levels towards those typical of a healthy forest ecosystem.

Riparian - relating to wetlands, adjacent to rivers, streams and springs.


Stewardship - a general approach to management that focuses on conservation, minimizing negative impacts and plans for the future. In forest farming, stewardship can apply to forest stewardship and species like ramps or American ginseng. 

Silviculture - the growing and cultivation of trees.

Species - A biological species is a group of organisms that can reproduce with one another in nature and produce fertile offspring. In the context of forest farming, key species include dominant trees, non timber forest product species, indicator species as well as invasive species and pests. 

Succession - is the orderly and predictable change in the dominant species of forest plants and their ecologies. 

Security - protecting highly valuable forest farming crops (like American ginseng or goldenseal) or other non timber forest products from theft, poaching, destruction, etc. 

Site Assessment - Evaluating the existing forest aspects and ecologies in order to understand what plantings and species might do well there. Usually the first step in forest farming operations. A thorough site assessment includes GIS mapping, terrain, direction, etc., as well as species inventory and seasonal observations. 

Silvopasture - Silvopasture is the deliberate integration of trees and grazing livestock operations on the same land.



Thinning - in forest farming this is usually thinning a forest area by felling/removing dead or diseased trees, lower quality species, or site preparation by the removal of understory or underbrush in order to allow more light to reach the forest floor.

Theft - illegal removal or harvest  of wild, stewarded, cultivated or forest farmed species, NTFPs, materials from private or public lands.

Technical service provider - extension agents, organizations professionals and people who have been trained in best practices, safety and more. 

Toxic - species which can cause external or internal harm if handled or ingested. Several forest farmed species have toxic look-alike species and must be identified or vouchered before harvesting for personal use or commercial harvest. Ramps (Allium tricoccum) has a highly toxic look-alike species, false hellebore (Veratrum viride), all parts of mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) are highly toxic to ingest. 


Understory -  The layer of small trees and shrubs between the highest canopy layer and the shrub and herb layers on the ground.



Value Added Products (VAPs) - stand for Value Added Products, often processed end products with forest farming ingredients for wholesale or retail markets like blended teas, food products like ramp salts or jarred goods, or baskets made from white oak bark.


Watershed - A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet.

Woodland - land area covered with woody vegetation.

Wild simulated - a forest farming approach where forest farmers/growers introduce specific species into an ideal forested environment and then let it grow with little to no intervention, often for up to 10 or more years. This is the least disturbing approach

Wild/uncultivated - plants and plant populations that occur naturally in the wild without the assistance of humans.

bottom of page