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Ecologically, a woodland is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. 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 densities and areas of trees, with largely closed canopy, provide extensive and nearly continuous shade are referred to as forest.

Woodland is used in British woodland management to mean any smaller area covered in trees, however dense. (Forest is usually used in the British Isles only for more extensive wooded areas, again, regardless of density – and also including Royal forests, which may not be wooded at all). The term Ancient Woodland is used in British nature conservation to refer to any wooded land that has existed for a very long period (equivalent to the American term old growth forest).

Woodlot is a closely-related American term, 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.


Woodland ecoregions

Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands

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