Forest Management Improves Health of Eastern White Pine

Research Issue

Proper spacing of pole-size white pine trees after thinning improves tree health and increases growth rates; pruning reduces black knots in lumber.

Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) has faced an increasing array of threats across the New England area within the last few decades. In addition to well-known pests and diseases, such as white pine weevils, white pine blister rust, and red-ring rot, the commercially and ecologically valuable species is now being assailed by additional insects and pathogens, such as Caliciopsis canker and needle pathogens. Changing climatic conditions involving years of drought and years of record moisture are also increasing health risks to eastnern white pine. 

Our Research

An interdisciplinary team, representing experts in the fields of insects, disease, and forest management, have come together to produce a field guide aimed at improving long-term health and resiliency in white pine forests as the environment changes.

The guide’s authors pulled together existing research specific to white pines in the New England area, along with their own observations and expertise, to create a prescriptive guide to identifying and mitigating health risks to white pines throughout the species’ life cycle.

Expected Outcomes

The “Field Manual for Managing Eastern White Pine Health in New England” was published in June 2019. The 20-page publication provides a full-color guide for identifying and evaluating health issues common to eastern white pines, as well as options for reducing risks or mitigating impacts based on the tree’s life stage.

Researchers found across health risks and treatments that lower density white pine forests were more resilient to insect or disease outbreaks. Managing white pines at lower densities had long been recommended for the commercial benefits of producing larger-diameter trees in a shorter period of time. However, this latest work confirms that the practice confers health benefits to white pines as well.

Since the field guide’s publication, researchers and co-authors have presented its findings at conferences and workshops across the Northeastern United States, as well as led a field trip for members of the New England Regional Society of Foresters.

Research Results

Livingston, William H.; Munck, Isabel; Lombard, Kyle; Weimer, Jennifer; Bergdahl, Aaron; Kenefic, Laura S.; Schultz, Barbara; Seymour, Robert S. 2019. Field Manual for Managing Eastern White Pine Health in New England. University of Maine, Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station, Orono, ME. Miscellaneous Publication 764. 20 p.

Research Participants

Principal Investigator

  • Laura Kenefic, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Research Forester

Research Partners

  • Last modified: December 7, 2020