Deconstructing definitions of Forest and Woodland: a proposal of new conditions and criteria
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WHAT IS A FOREST? WHAT IS A WOODLAND?
The definition of forest, mostly accepted as a group of trees of determined height, disposed in a determined density and covering some percentage of the soil, can be included in a broader definition of woodlands, often seen as a group of trees with more flexible thresholds for height, density and coverage. So, from now on and arbitrarily, when the word “woodland” is mentioned, “forests” are also included.
Referring to the introduction and analyzing the Spanish word bosque (as forest), immediately we fall into a contradiction. As said before, the word has an etymological source in the word “bush”, with several meanings. One of the meanings is “an undeveloped rural land” which is a vague definition. Depending on the country, the term “bush” would mean a sparsely tree occupied land, or savannah, associated to semiarid lands. It also means areas occupied by native species instead of exotic ones. It is also a synonym of “shrub” defined as a short woody plant, generally lacking a principal stem. Also from Chinese etymology, the character lín (both in sēnlín, “forest” and líndì, “woodland”) means “grove” as a little forest or plantation, and “thicket” as a very dense patch of trees or bushes. It is possible to see that differently from the classical definitions, 1) both words include the bushes or shrubs without referring to trees at all, 2) the Chinese lín makes reference to little areas and, 3) the same character refers to plantations.