Climate change and forest diseases: using today’s knowledge to address future challenges

R. Sturrock


The health of the earth’s forests and urban green spaces is increasingly challenged by the outcomes of human activities, including global climate change. As climate changes, the role and impact of diseases on trees in both forest ecosystems and in urban settings will also change. Knowledge of relationships between climate variables and diseases affecting forest and urban trees is reviewed, with specific emphasis on those affecting foliage, shoots, and stems. Evidence that forest diseases are already responding to the earth’s changing climate is examined (e.g., Dothistroma needle blight in northern British Columbia) as are predicted scenarios for future changes in impact on forests by other tree diseases. Outbreaks of tree diseases caused by native and alien pathogens are predicted to become more frequent and intense – this and other general predictions about the effects of climate change on forest and tree diseases are discussed. Despite the uncertainty that accompanies such predictions it is imperative that researchers, forest and urban tree managers, and policy makers work together to develop and implement management strategies that enhance the resilience of the worlds’ forests and urbanized trees. Strategies discussed include monitoring, forecasting, planning, and mitigation.

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2012212-02230