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Individual Highlight

Non-native Forest Pathogens Cost Homeowners Millions of Dollars Annually

Photo of Oak wilt pocket next to house. Joe O'Brien, Forest ServiceOak wilt pocket next to house. Joe O'Brien, Forest ServiceSnapshot : Two big killers of residential trees--the oak wilt pathogen in the East and the sudden oak death (SOD) pathogen in the West cost homeowners millions of dollars annually. Millions are spent to treat, remove, and replant oak trees and millions are lost in property value where ever these diseases have spread. Forest Service researchers calculated economic costs and losses to homeowners and communities and found that programs to slow the spread of forest diseases such as oak wilt and sudden oak death provide important benefits, in terms of reduced expenditures and losses, to both homeowners and communities.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Haight, Robert G. 
Research Location : Statewide
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 330


Non-native forest pathogens kill many thousands of trees annually in the United States. Two serious fungal diseases are oak wilt in the East and sudden oak death (SOD) in the West. Information on economic costs and losses to landowners and municipalities is limited, especially for residential areas. Forest Service researchers predicted the spread of SOD in California and oak wilt in Anoka County, MN, over the decade 2010-2020 and then predicted annual expenditures for oak treatment, removal, and replanting and property value losses associated with tree mortality. For SOD in California, they predicted that annual expenditures could reach almost $1 million and annual property value losses, up to $13 million. For oak wilt in a single county in Minnesota, they predicted annual expenditures of $2 to 6 million. Although the predicted amounts are substantial, they are, nevertheless, lower bounds on total economic losses because of reduced ecosystem services such as water quality and increased safety hazards. Quantifying expenditures and losses to landowners is critical to strategies for prevention, management, and research of diseases and pests in forests.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Chris Gilligan and Nik Cunniffe, Cambridge University, UK
  • Kent Kovacs, Frances Homans, Tetsuya Horie, Shefali Mehta, and David Smith, University of Minnesota
  • Ross Meentemeyer, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • and Arwin Pang, University of Nevada, Reno