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The Vision of Managing for Pest-Resistant Landscapes: Realistic or Utopic?

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Kneeshaw, Daniel D.; Sturtevant, Brian R.; DeGrandpé, Louis ; Doblas-Miranda, Enrique ; James, Patrick M. A.; Tardif, Dominique ; Burton, Philip J.

Year Published



Current Forestry Reports


Purpose of Review. Forest managers have long suggested that forests can be made more resilient to insect pests by reducing the abundance of hosts, yet this has rarely been done. The goal of our paper is to review whether recent scientific evidence supports forest manipulation to decrease vulnerability. To achieve this goal, we first ask if outbreaks of forest insect pests have been more severe in recent decades. Next, we assess the relative importance of climate change and forest management–induced changes in forest composition/structure in driving these changes in severity. Recent Findings. Forest structure and composition continue to be implicated in pest outbreak severity. Mechanisms, however, remain elusive. Recent research elucidates how forest compositional and structural diversity at neighbourhood, stand, and landscape scales can increase forest resistance to outbreaks. Many recent outbreaks of herbivorous forest insects have been unprecedented in terms of duration and spatial extent. Climate change may be a contributing factor, but forest structure and composition have been clearly identified as contributing to these unprecedented outbreaks. Summary. Current research supports using silviculture to create pest-resistant forest landscapes. However, the precise mechanisms by which silviculture can increase resistance remains uncertain. Further, humans tend to more often create pest-prone forests due to political, economic, and human resistance to change and a short-sighted risk management perspective that focuses on reactive rather than proactive responses to insect outbreak threats. Future research efforts need to focus on social, political, cultural, and educational mechanisms tomotivate implementation of proven ecological solutions if pest-resistant forests are to be favoured by management.


Unprecedented outbreaks; Forest management; Structural and compositional diversity; Forest resistance to insect pests; Climate change; Social barriers to management


Kneeshaw, Daniel D.; Sturtevant, Brian R.; DeGrandpé, Louis; Doblas-Miranda, Enrique; James, Patrick M. A.; Tardif, Dominique; Burton, Philip J. 2021. The Vision of Managing for Pest-Resistant Landscapes: Realistic or Utopic? Current Forestry Reports. 17 p.

Last updated on: May 24, 2021