Afforestation is defined as 'the conversion of open land into forest by planting trees.'

What would be a synonym for afforestation if there is no human intervention involved? Is there a one-word term for succession into forest?


3 Answers 3


I've come across spontaneous afforestation if that helps. Other terms include natural regeneration and natural reforestation.

By the way, succession is supposed to be spontaneous.

  • succession is indeed spontaneous but can go in many more directions than just towards forest Sep 12, 2013 at 14:24
  • Yes that's true - in that case I don't think there is a single word description.
    – user49727
    Sep 12, 2013 at 16:29



to return (land) to a more natural state: rewilding an unpopulated island for use as an animal preserve. from dictionary.com

It still doesn't guarantee a passive process, but doesn't have the strong implication of human action that afforestation does. It's (of course) not specifically about trees, though most uses seem to carry that implication.


"Natural wild growth" is the idea you seem to be looking for but that's a phrase, not a single-word.

As opposed to cultivation/ afforestation, it is disuse that leads to natural wild growth.

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