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Forest Health & Natural Disturbances

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

October 21, 2020 | Authors: The Forteck Team


Curated information is derived from a combination of Forteck crew members with first-hand experience and verified online sources or government sites. We work very hard to provide quality educational information relevant to the forestry industry to promote forestry and the great things foresters can do. Please let us know if you find any misinformation and we will correct it immediately. It takes a village to educate! Thank you for reading and working together in further teaching people about forestry. #forestryproud


Forest Health

Traditionally, natural disturbances such as wildfires, insects, diseases, & weather, are perceived to have negative impacts on forest health. Because, why would it be a good thing to have a forest fire, right? BUT, fun fact, those natural disturbances are integral in the forest renewal process. "Disturbances are particularly important to the cycle of regeneration and regrowth in boreal forests." Source [1]


So, let's go down the line of natural disturbances and evaluate how those disturbances aid in the renewal of our forest health.  

  • Forest Fire: Forest fires are as integral to forest health as the sun and the rain. The forest canopy is opened up releasing valuable nutrients from the forest floor, allowing for new growth to develop. Forest fires also allow for species such as the Lodgepole and Jack Pine to reproduce, opening their cones and freeing their seeds. 

  • Insects: Insects eliminate the sick or ageing trees, allowing for the stronger trees to thrive and reproduce. This cycle decreased competition among the trees in the forest, which in turn, makes our ecosystem more productive. Insects also release nutrients stored within the trees. 

  • Diseases: Similar to insect's effect on the ecosystem, diseases decrease the competition among the forests with their capability of speeding up the mortality rate of the sick or ageing trees. 

The Science

Scientists are closely monitoring natural disturbances in Canadian forests and reporting to improve forest management plans, forestry laws, and forestry practices. Although natural disturbances have their place in the life cycle to improve forest health, forest professionals are improving their harvesting techniques to closely mimic the disturbances to maintain their benefits while decreasing the negative effects of the disturbances. 

Forests Almost Always Grow Back

"Although forest fires, insects and diseases do temporarily reduce the forest area, it’s important to remember that the trees will almost always grow back. Natural disturbance should not be confused with deforestation. A forest that will grow back is still a forest." Source [1]

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