• Chapter

The influence of forest management on vulnerability of forests to severe weather


Beach, R., Sills, E. O., Liu, T-M., & Pattanayak, S. (2010). The influence of forest management on vulnerability of forests to severe weather. In J. M. Pye, H. M. Rauscher, Y. Sands, D. C. Lee, & J. S. Beatty (Eds.), Advances in Threat Assessment and Their Application to Forest and Rangeland Management. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-802 Portland, OR: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest and Southern Research Stations.


Excessive wind, ice, and snow regularly cause major
disturbances to forests in many parts of the world, significantly
impacting both ecological conditions and economic
returns to forest landowners. These events cause immediate
losses for landowners, and the broken and uprooted trees
left in the wake of a storm increase the risk that wildfires,
disease, and pest outbreaks will cause secondary damage to
the surviving trees. Although weather severity (e.g., windspeed
and duration, or form and amount of precipitation)
is clearly an important factor in the occurrence and severity
of forest damage, site conditions, tree characteristics,
and stand characteristics play a major role in determining
resistance of a forest stand to wind, ice, and snow loading.
However, the relationships between site, tree, and stand
characteristics and weather damage are complex and vary
spatially and temporally. In this article, we review and
synthesize the literature on the risk of forest damages from
severe weather—focusing on wind, ice, and snow—and
the factors that influence vulnerability. Forest management
decisions are found to play an important role in influencing
risk associated with severe weather events. The risk of damages
can be managed through strategies such as selection of
planting site and species, stocking, and selection and timing
of silvicultural treatments. Optimal management strategies
under endogenous risk vary based on the probability of
damage and management objectives.