Annual tree mortality and felling rates in the Czech Republic and Slovakia over three decades

Open access


Although tree mortality is an essential process in forests, tree death still remains one of the least understood phenomena of forest development and dynamics. Therefore, we focused on annual mortality rates together with annual felling rates in the Slovak and Czech forests. We used data from the long-term national monitoring (periods of 1988–2017 in Slovakia and 1992–2017 in the Czech Republic). More than 24.6 thousand trees were assessed together in both countries. We calculated mortality and felling rates derived from two variables: basal area and number of trees. For these purposes, we selected five tree species/genera, specifically: Norway spruce, pines, European beech, oaks and common hornbeam. We recorded large inter-annual fluctuations of mortality rates in all tree species/genera. In both countries, spruce and pines had the highest mortality rates, while beech had the lowest mortality rates. Confrontation of long-term climatic data (especially annual precipitation totals) with mortality data indicated that drought was probably the most relevant factor causing tree death. On the other hand, no significant temporal trend, either increasing or decreasing, in tree mortality was found for any tree species/genera. As for all five selected tree species/genera together, significantly higher mean annual mortality rate derived from the number of trees was found in the Czech Republic (1.09%) than in Slovakia (0.56%). This finding indicates that tree mortality is often caused by combined effects of external unfavourable factors and competition pressure in forest stands.

Adams, H. D., Zeppel, M. J. B., Anderegg, W. R. L., Hartmann, H., Landhäusser, S. M., Tissue, D.T., 2017: A multi-species synthesis of physiological mechanisms in drought-induced tree mortality. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 9:1285–1291.

Badea, O., Tanase, M., Georgeta, J., Anisoara, L., Peiova, A., Uhlirova, H. et al., 2004: Forest health status in the Carpathian Mountains over the period 1997–2001. Environmental Pollution, 130:93–98.

Black, B. A., Colbert, J. J., Pederson, N., 2008: Relationships between radial growth rates and lifespan within North American tree species. Ecoscience, 15:349–357.

Das, A., Bettles, J., Stephenson, N. L., van Mantgem, P. J., 2011: The contribution of competition to tree mortality in old-growth coniferous forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 261:1203–1213.

Das, A. J., Stephenson, N. L., Davis, K. P. 2016: Why do trees die? Characterizing the drivers of background tree mortality. Ecology, 97:2616–2627.

Fabiánek, P. et al., 2005: Forest Condition Monitoring in the Czech Republic, 1984–2003. Prague, Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic, Forestry and Game Management Research Institute, 432 p.

Fabiánek, P., Hellebrandová, K., Čapek, M., 2012: Monitoring of defoliation in forest stands of the Czech Republic and its comparison with results of defoliation monitoring in other European countries. Journal of Forest Science, 58:193–202.

Ferretti, M., 1997: Forest health assessment and monitoring. Issues for consideration. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 48:45–72.

Franklin, J. F., Shugart, H. H., Harmon, M. E., 1987: Tree death as an ecological process. BioScience, 37:550–556.

Gardiner, B., Berry, P., Moulia, B., 2016: Review: Wind impacts on plant growth, mechanics and damage. Plant Science, 245:1–25.

Hlásny T., Sitková Z., 2010: Spruce forests decline in the Beskids. National Forest Centre – Forest Research Institute Zvolen & Czech University of Life Sciences Prague & Forestry and Game Management Research Institute Jíloviště – Strnady, 182 p.

Hogg, E. H., Brandt, J. P., Michaelian, M., 2008: Impacts of a regional drought on the productivity, dieback, and biomass of western Canadian aspen forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 38:1373–1384.

Konôpka, B., Zach, P., Kulfan, J., 2016: Wind – An important ecological factor and destructive agent in forests. Lesnícky časopis – Forestry Journal, 62:123–130.

Kozlowski, T. T., Pallardy, S. G., 1997: Physiology of Woody Plants. Second Edition. Sand Diego, Academic Press, 411 p.

Krahl-Urban, Papke, H. E., B., Peters, K., Schimansky, Ch., Bennett, D. A., Brandt, C. J. et al., 1988: Forest Decline. Cause-Effects Research in the United States on North America and Federal Republic of Germany. KFA Julich GmbH, Julich, 137 p.

Kunca, A., Zúbrik, M., Vakula, J., Galko, J., Konôpka, B., Leontovyč, R. et al., 2017: Výskyt škodlivých činiteľov v lesoch Slovenska za rok 2016 a ich prognóza na rok 2017. Účelový elaborát. Zvolen, Národné lesnícke centrum, 79 p.

Lapin, M., 2018: Dlhodobý režim úhrnov atmosférických zrážok na Slovensku. Available at:

Larson, A. J., Lutz, J. A., Donato, D. C., Freund, J. A., Swanson, M. E., Lambers, J. H. et al., 2015: Spatial aspects of tree mortality strongly differ between young and old-growth forests. Ecology, 96:2855–2861.

Lindner, M., Garcia-Gonzalo, J., Kolström, M., Green, T., Ruguera, R., Maroschek, M. et al., 2008: Impact of Climate Change on European Forests and Options for Adaption. Report to the European Commission Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, Joensuu, EFI, 173 p.

Little, Ch. E., 1995: The dying of the trees. The pandemic in America’s forests. New York, Viking/Penguin.

Lutz, J. A., Halpern, C. B. 2006: Tree mortality during early forest development: a long-term study of rates, causes, and consequences. Ecological Monographs, 76:257–275.

Neumann, M., Mues, V., Moreno, A., Hasenauer, H., Seidl, R., 2017: Climate variability drives recent tree mortality in Europe. Global Change Biology, 23:1–10.

Nikolov, Ch., Konôpka, B., Kajba, M., Galko, J., Kunca, A., Janský, L., 2014: Post-disaster Forest Management and Bark Beetle Outbreak in Tatra National Park, Slovakia. Mountain Research and Development, 34:326–335.

Pavlenda, P., Pajtík, J., Bucha, T., Leontovyč, R., 2009: Zdravotný stav lesov na Slovensku. Enviromagazín, 9:26–27.

Raffa, K., Aukema, B., Bentz, B., Carroll, A., Hicke, J., Turner, M. et al., 2008: Cross-scale drivers of natural disturbances prone to anthropogenic amplification: the dynamics of bark beetle eruptions. Bioscience, 58: 501–517.

Rautio, P., Ferreti, M., 2015: Monitoring European forests: results for science, policy, and society. Annals of Forest Science, 72:875–876.

Rožnovský, J., 2014: Sucho na území České republiky. Živa, 157:2–3.

Sánchez, J. M. et al., 2008: Droughts: Causes, Effects and Predictions. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., New York, 358 p.

Shortle, W. C., Dudzik, K. R., 2012: Wood Decay in Living and Dead Trees: A Pictorial Overview. USDA, Delaware, 27 p.

Schelhaas, M. J., Nabuurs, G. J., Schuck, A., 2003: Natural disturbances in the European forests in the 19th and 20th centuries. Global Change Biology, 9:1620–1633.

Schulze, E. D., Lange, O. L., Oren, R., 1989: Forest Decline and Air Pollution. Ecological Studies, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 475 p.

Stage, A. R., Renner, D. L., 1988. Comparison of yieldforecasting techniques using long-term stand histories. In: A.R. Ek, S.R. Shifley T.E. and Burk (eds.): Forest Growth Modelling and Prediction. Proceedings of IUFRO Conference, August 23–27, 1987, Minneapolis, Minnesota. USDA For. Serv., Gen. Tech.Rep. NC-120, p. 810–817.

Stolina, M. et al., 1985: Ochrana lesa. Bratislava, Príroda, 480 p.

Svoboda, M., Janda, P., Bače, R., Fraver, S., Nagel, T. A., Rejzek, J. et al., 2014: Landscape-level variability in historical disturbance in primary Picea abiesmountain forests of the Eastern Carpathians, Romania. Journal of Vegetation Sciences, 25:386–401.

Šebeň, V., 2017: Národná inventarizácia a monitoring lesov Slovenskej republiky 2015–2016. Lesnícke štúdie 65, Zvolen, NLC-LVÚ, Zvolen, 255 p.

Šebeň, V., Konôpka, B., Pajtík, J., 2017: Quantifying carbon in dead and living trees; a case study in young beech and spruce stand over 9 years. Central European Forestry Journal, 63:133–141.

Thornton, P. E. 1998: Description of a numerical simulation model for predicting the dynamics of energy, water, carbon and nitrogen in a terrestrial ecosystem. PhD. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 280 p.

Trombik, J., Barka, I., Hlásny, T., 2016: Effect of different tree mortality patterns on stand development in the forest model SIBYLA. Lesnícky časopis – Forestry Journal, 62:173–180.

Vakula, J., Zúbrik, M., Kunca, A., Dubec, M., Finďo, S., Galko, J. et al., 2016: Nové metódy ochrany lesa. Zvolen, NLC-LVÚ, Zvolen, 292 p.

Van Mantgem, P. J., Stephenson, N. L., Byrne, J. C., Daniels, L. D., Franklin, J. F., Fulé, P. Z., Harmon, M. E. et al., 2009: Widespread increase of tree mortality rates in the Western United States. Science, 323:521–524.

White, M. A., Thornton, P. E., Running, S. W., Nemani, R. R., 2000: Parameterization and sensitivity analysis of the BIOME-BGC terrestrial ecosystem model: Net primary production controls. Earth Interactions, 4:1–85.

Williams, A. P., Allen, C. D., Macalady A. K., Griffin, D., Woodhouse, C. A., Meko, D. M. et al., 2013: Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality. Nature Climate Change, 3: 292–297.

Central European Forestry Journal

The Journal of National Forest Centre – Forest Research Institute Zvolen

Journal Information

CiteScore 2016: 0.56

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.230
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.454


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 81 81 15
PDF Downloads 46 46 2