The effect of forest management options on forest resilience to pathogens

Michaela Roberts, Christopher A. Gilligan, Adam Kleczkowski, Nick Hanley, A. E. Whalley, John R. Healey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Invasive pathogens threaten the ability of forests globally to produce a range of valuable ecosystem services over time. However, the ability to detect such pathogen invasions—and thus to produce appropriate and timely management responses—is relatively low. We argue that a promising approach is to plan and manage forests in a way that increases their resilience to invasive pathogens not yet present or ubiquitous in the forest. This paper is based on a systematic search and critical review of empirical evidence of the effect of a wide range of forest management options on the primary and secondary infection rates of forest pathogens, and on subsequent forest recovery. Our goals are to inform forest management decision making to increase forest resilience, and to identify the most important evidence gaps for future research. The management options for which there is the strongest evidence that they increase forest resilience to pathogens are: reduced forest connectivity, removal or treatment of inoculum sources such as cut stumps, reduced tree density, removal of diseased trees and increased tree species diversity. In all cases the effect of these options on infection dynamics differs greatly amongst tree and pathogen species and between forest environments. However, the lack of consistent effects of silvicultural systems or of thinning, pruning or coppicing treatments is notable. There is also a lack of evidence of how the effects of treatments are influenced by the scale at which they are applied, e.g., the mixture of tree species. An overall conclusion is that forest managers often need to trade-off increased resilience to tree pathogens against other benefits obtained from forests.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Number of pages21
JournalFrontiers in Forests and Global Change
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020


  • Tree disease
  • Epidemiology
  • Forestry
  • Pathogen
  • Silviculture
  • Forest management
  • Invasive species
  • Species diversity


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