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Woodland in Belianske Tatras in Slovakia Belianske Tatry.JPG
Woodland in Belianske Tatras in Slovakia

A woodland ( /ˈwʊdlənd/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, [1] [2] or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the plurale tantum woods), a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade (see differences between British, American, and Australian English explained below). Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of primary or secondary succession. Higher-density areas of trees with a largely closed canopy that provides extensive and nearly continuous shade are often referred to as forests.


Extensive efforts by conservationist groups have been made to preserve woodlands from urbanization and agriculture. For example, the woodlands of Northwest Indiana have been preserved as part of the Indiana Dunes. [3] [4] [5]


United Kingdom

Woodland is used in British woodland management to mean tree-covered areas which arose naturally and which are then managed, while forest is usually used in the British Isles to describe plantations, usually more extensive, or hunting Forests, which are a land use with a legal definition and may not be wooded at all. [6] The term ancient woodland is used in British nature conservation to refer to any wooded land that has existed since 1600, and often (though not always) for thousands of years, since the last Ice Age [6] (equivalent to the American term old-growth forest).

North America

Woodlot is a closely related term in American forest management, which refers to a stand of trees generally used for firewood. While woodlots often technically have closed canopies, they are so small that light penetration from the edge makes them ecologically closer to woodland than forest.


In Australia, a woodland is defined as an area with sparse (10–30%) cover of trees, and an open woodland has very sparse (<10%) cover. Woodlands are also subdivided into tall woodlands, or low woodlands, if their trees are over 30 m (98 ft) or under 10 m (33 ft) high respectively. This contrasts with forests, which have greater than 30% cover by trees. [7]

Oak disease

Sudden oak death (SOD), an oak disease, results from Phytophthora ramorum , a pathogen that thrives in moist, humid conditions. [8] This causal agent attacks the phloem and cambium of oaks, allowing beetle and fungi infestation. It has killed millions of tanoaks since it was discovered in the mid-1990s. SOD does not affect white oaks and drier areas like foothill woodlands, but affects forests and more moist conditions like live oak woodlands and forests, which have been significantly impacted. [8]

Woodland ecoregions

A woodland ecosystem at Morton Arboretum in Illinois Morton Arboretum woodland.jpg
A woodland ecosystem at Morton Arboretum in Illinois
An open woodland in Northern Illinois supporting an herbaceous understory of forbs and grasses Open Woodland in Illinois United States.jpg
An open woodland in Northern Illinois supporting an herbaceous understory of forbs and grasses

Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands

Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands

Montane grasslands and shrublands

Limber Pine woodland in the Toiyabe Range of central Nevada Limber pine woodland.jpg
Limber Pine woodland in the Toiyabe Range of central Nevada

Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub

Mediterranean eucalypt forest in Australia Bush in fog.jpg
Mediterranean eucalypt forest in Australia
A dry sclerophyll forest in western Sydney. Prospectcreek.jpg
A dry sclerophyll forest in western Sydney.

Deserts and xeric shrublands

See also

Related Research Articles

The Global 200 is the list of ecoregions identified by WWF, the global conservation organization, as priorities for conservation. According to WWF, an ecoregion is defined as a "relatively large unit of land or water containing a characteristic set of natural communities that share a large majority of their species dynamics, and environmental conditions". So, for example, based on their levels of endemism, Madagascar gets multiple listings, ancient Lake Baikal gets one, and the North American Great Lakes get none.

Afrotropical realm One of Earths eight biogeographic realms

The Afrotropical realm is one of Earth's eight biogeographic realms. It includes Africa south of the Sahara Desert, the majority of the Arabian Peninsula, the island of Madagascar, southern Iran and extreme southwestern Pakistan, and the islands of the western Indian Ocean. It was formerly known as the Ethiopian Zone or Ethiopian Region.

Afromontane Subregion of the Afrotropical realm

The Afromontane regions are subregions of the Afrotropical realm, one of the Earth's eight biogeographic realms, covering the plant and animal species found in the mountains of Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula. The Afromontane regions of Africa are discontinuous, separated from each other by lower-lying areas, and are sometimes referred to as the Afromontane archipelago, as their distribution is analogous to a series of sky islands.

White-bellied yellow bat Species of bat

The white-bellied yellow bat or white-bellied house bat, is a species of vesper bat in the genus Scotophilus, the house bats. It can be found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. It is found in dry and moist savanna and open woodland. It is a common species with a very wide range, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".

Mediterranean woodlands and forests Ecoregion in Northern Africa

The Mediterranean woodlands and forests is an ecoregion in the coastal plains, hills, and mountains bordering the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean in North Africa. It has a Mediterranean climate, and is in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome.

Angolan mopane woodlands

Angolan mopane woodlands are situated in southwestern Angola, extending into northern Namibia. This ecosystem surrounds Etosha Pan, which is considered a separate ecoregion. The mopane trees are the main type of vegetation.

Kalahari acacia–baikiaea woodlands Ecoregion in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe

Kalahari Acacia-Baikiaea woodlands is an ecoregion located in Botswana, northern Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Zambezian cryptosepalum dry forests

The Zambezian cryptosepalum dry forests, also known as the Zambezian evergreen dry forests, is a tropical dry broadleaf forest ecoregion of Southern Africa. It consists of several areas of thick forest in western Zambia and adjacent Angola. It is one of the largest areas of tropical evergreen forest outside the equatorial zone.

Zambezian and mopane woodlands Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion of southeastern Africa.

The Zambezian and mopane woodlands is a tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion of southeastern Africa.

Western Zambezian grasslands

The Western Zambezian grasslands is a tropical grassland ecoregion of eastern Zambia and adjacent parts of Angola. It is situated in two sections, to the north and south of the Barotse Floodplain. The region supports herds of ungulates, including Zambia's largest herd of Blue Wildebeast ).

Southern miombo woodlands

The Southern miombo woodlands is a tropical grasslands and woodlands ecoregion extending across portions of Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Zambezian region is a large biogeographical region in Africa. The Zambezian region includes woodlands, savannas, grasslands, and thickets, extending from east to west in a broad belt across the continent. The Zambezian region lies south of the rainforests of the Guineo-Congolian region. The Zambezian region is bounded by deserts and xeric shrublands on the southwest, the Highveld grasslands of South Africa to the south, and the subtropical Maputaland forests on the southeast.


  1. "Definition of Woodland". Lexico . Retrieved 2020-01-15.
  2. "Woodland definition and meaning". Collins English Dictionary . Retrieved 2020-01-15.
  3. Smith, S.; Mark, S. (2006). "Alice Gray, Dorothy Buell, and Naomi Svihla: Preservationists of Ogden Dunes". The South Shore Journal. 1. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  4. Smith, S.; Mark, S. (2009). "The Historical Roots of the Nature Conservancy in the Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland Region: From Science to Preservation". The South Shore Journal. 3. Archived from the original on 2016-01-01. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  5. Smith, S.; Mark, S. (2007). "The cultural impact of a museum in a small community: The Hour Glass of Ogden Dunes". The South Shore Journal. 2. Archived from the original on 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  6. 1 2 Rackham, Oliver (2006). Woodlands (New Naturalist 100). London: HarperCollins. ISBN   9780007202447.
  7. "A simplified look at Australia's vegetation". Information about Australia's Flora: The Australian Environment. Canberra: Australian National Botanic Gardens and Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research. 24 December 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  8. 1 2 Mooney & Zavaleta (2016). Ecosystems of California. University of California Press, Oakland. p. 515.