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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?

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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.

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  • 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
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Rewilding

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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.

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"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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