Publication Details

Sustaining oak forests in eastern North America: regeneration and recruitment, the pillars of sustainability

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Forest Science. 60(5): 926-942.


Oak cover types comprise half of the forestlands in the eastern United States. There is a great desire to sustain these highly valued forests. Unfortunately, reports of the successional replacement of oak are all too common, as they are throughout the world. Sustaining the oak resource requires the ability to both regenerate and recruit oak into the overstory as dominant mature trees. Too often these two critical processes are disconnected in oak management, thwarting the best of intentions to sustain oak. Restoring and sustaining oak forests require active management and long-term commitment. Climate change, high deer populations, invasive species, and social constraints can complicate oak management. Despite these challenges, we have sufficient knowledge to be successful in our efforts despite an uncertain future. Forest landscapes are too homogeneous today and may cause a bottleneck in oak regeneration as mature forests become old-growth. Management is needed to diversify the landscape and create a more balanced age structure that has the capacity to naturally regenerate oak. Landscape diversity is also desired to combat the myriad of forest threats and future uncertainty. Getting private landowners and public managers to manage for oak is key to changing landscapes and ensuring a quality oak resource.


oak silviculture; sustainable forests; oak ecology; forest history; regeneration


Dey, Daniel C. 2014. Sustaining oak forests in eastern North America: regeneration and recruitment, the pillars of sustainability. Forest Science. 60(5): 926-942.

Last updated on: March 25, 2015