Maintaining forest ecosystem health and vitality

Forest health and vitality depends on the ecosystem’s ability to recover from, or adapt to, disturbances. Many disturbances are natural components of forest ecosystems, but some may overwhelm ecosystem functions, altering their patterns and processes.

If a forest ecosystem’s health and vitality declines, this may have significant economic and ecological consequences.

The more we know about different threats to forest ecosystems, the better we can develop management strategies to minimise and mitigate the risks. Maintaining forest ecosystem health and vitality is the foundation of sustainable forest management.

Maintaining forest ecosystems

The key threats to New Zealand’s forest ecosystems are:

(i)    diseases

(ii)    pests

(iii)    wind

(iv)    wildfire

(v)    deforestation.

  • Annual losses from diseases affecting planted forests are estimated at $83 million (2013).
  • Less than one percent of the total planted forest area is affected by insects, whereas 10 percent is affected by diseases.
  • Possums are the biggest pest threat to indigenous forests, affecting an estimated 81 percent of the forest area.
  • Wind is the most serious abiotic threat to planted forests.

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