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U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Abiotic Forest Damage

Abiotic forest damage caused by non-living factors are a natural and integral part of forest ecosystems that have major impacts, positive and negative. When these non-living factors exceed their normal range of variation, however, the impacts on forests can be extreme affecting entire landscapes, causing large-scale tree mortality and complete destruction of undergrowth and soils. Abiotic forest damage can exacerbate many of these impacts making forests more prone to damage by altering the frequency, intensity, and timing of some events such as storms, insect and disease outbreaks, and heat waves in the form of droughts which increase the risk of large-scale fires.

Forest Health Protection provides technical assistance on forest health-related matters, including non-living factors such as abiotic stressors, working closely with land managers and resource staff with the National Forest System, the Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, other federal agencies, Tribes, all 50 States, U.S. Territories, universities, private landowners, and other countries.

In addition, Forest Health Protection provides survey and monitoring data, as well as technical and financial assistance to prevent, suppress, and manage abiotic diseases threatening the nation’s forest resources. Through these efforts we maintain, enhance, and restore healthy forest conditions and explore links between changing climate and pest conditions. Forest Health Protection provides professional assistance to integrate disturbance considerations in forest planning and management.

Abiotic damage photo

Abiotic damage to pine caused by chemical drift. Photo by by Dr. Bruce Moltzan, USDA Forest Service.


Sign of drought of Oak tree photo

Photo by Robert Burns, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


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Nutrient deficiency photo

Photo by Cheryl Kaiser, University of Kentucky

Nutrient Deficiency

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Winter burn photo

Photo by Dr. Bruce D. Moltzan, USDA Forest Service

Winter Burn

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