Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

The New York Forest Tax Law Program (commonly called “480a” after the section of the tax code relating to it) is a property tax reduction program. Participation is voluntary, and you must own at least 50 acres of woods in adjoining properties in New York to be eligible. 480a lowers your taxes by exempting up to 80% of the assessed value of enrolled acreage from property taxes.

Synonyms: 480a
480a Management Plan

A document submited to NY Department of Environmental Conservation to enroll your property in the 480a Forest Tax Law. The 480a Management Plan shows the boundaries and size of your woodlot, what kinds and sizes of trees it contains, and what needs to be done to harvest trees. A plan identifies scheduled commercial harvests, noncommercial thinnings, road construction, and other management practices. These practices are listed in a work schedule that shows the work to be done each year for the next 15 years.

480a Update

To maintain your 480a tax reduction, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation requires that you update your 480a management plan every five years. Your consulting forester can help you with this task.

Acceptable Growing Stock (AGS)

Trees of a quality suitable for sawing into lumber. They are typically larger, healthier trees with tall, straight trunks with few low-growing branches.

Agricultural Assessment

A New York State program for lowering property taxes on active farmlands. The state defines farming broadly, so forest products like maple syrup may be eligible.


"All Terrain Vehicle" - a motorized vehicle designed to get around trails and over rough terrain.

Basal Area

If you cut through a tree 4.5 feet off the ground and found the area of the stump, that would be the basal area. Adding up all these areas over an acre gives a sense of how dense trees are growing in your woods.

Best Management Practice

A water quality protection tool used primarily on trails to keep them stable and limit erosion.


"Best Management Practice" - a water quality protection tool used primarily on trails to keep them stable and limit erosion.

Board Foot

A measure of wood volume. One board foot is 12 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. When selling timber, landowners are commonly paid per thousand board feet of volume in their trees, commonly abbreviated "MBF."


A strip of plants of varying sizes maintained along a road, stream, cabin or other area to reduce the visual or environmental impacts of human activity such as farming or logging.

Certified Forester

A professional certification by the Society of American Foresters

Commercial Harvest

A logging job that earns the landowner money.

Conservation Easement

An easement granted by a landowner to a public or private entity (as a land trust) in which the landowner agrees to restrictions on use of the land (as from development) and the holder agrees to enforce the restrictions.

Consulting Forester

A forester that advises a landowner on what actions to take to manage their woodland. They also act as the landowner's agent in selling and overseeing timber harvesting.