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High forest (woodland): Wikis

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High forest is a term for a woodland or forest with a well-developed natural structure. It is used in both ecology and woodland management, particularly in contrast with even-aged woodland types such as coppice and planted woodland.

In a high forest the trees range in age from young seedlings and saplings through to mature trees and veteran trees, and there are well-developed layers of canopy trees, shrubs and ground vegetation, as well as occasional clearings.

High forest may occur as a result of the natural development of woodland without human interference, or it may be created and maintained through deliberate management. It usually has greater biodiversity than even-aged woodland, because it has a greater range of microhabitats within it (thus providing niches for more organisms), and because it is more similar to the natural woodland to which woodland organisms are adapted.

Once fully established, high forest may require less regular woodland management than some other woodland types such as coppice, and for this reason (as well as the potential for increased biodiversity), it is sometimes chosen as a deliberate management aim for neglected woodland.

In many climates, a lack of woodland management in plantation or coppice may eventually produce high forest, as trees fall and new ones grow. However, this natural process is likely to take many decades on its own, and so deliberate thinning and selective felling may be used to speed up development of high forest.

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