Understanding the interactions between wind and trees: an introduction to the IUFRO 8th Wind and Trees Conference (2017)

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This paper discusses the advance in our understanding of the interaction between wind and trees over the last 25 years. It does this by comparing papers in this special issue of Forestry and a companion volume in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, based on work presented at the 8th IUFRO Wind and Trees Conference in 2017, with papers published in book format after the 1st IUFRO Wind and Trees Conference in 1993. The analysis is divided into sections on ‘airflow and tree mechanics’, ‘forest management and ecology’, ‘tree adaptation and acclimation’ and ‘modelling and statistical techniques’. It is clear that in the last 25 years large advances have been made in our understanding of airflow and turbulence within and above forest canopies and the wind flow and wind loading around and on individual trees. There have also been important developments in the mechanistic and statistical modelling of wind damage risk to forests. Much of the progress has been aided by the enormous advances in measurement systems, computer power and modelling techniques. Furthermore, this knowledge is beginning to influence the approach to temperate and boreal forest management and the development of systems to mitigate the risk of wind damage. At the same time there has been a growing awareness of the ecological impact of wind in many forests around the world, including tropical forests. However, other areas of the effect of wind on trees have progressed much less in the last 25 years. This includes the process of fatiguing in the root-soil system, both during individual storms and over longer periods, and which is known to be a critical factor in the process of windthrow. In addition the exact nature of damage propagation within forests during a storm, and then in subsequent storms, has received relatively little attention although new studies using advanced computational methods are making advances. Of particular relevance, and despite the known critical importance of tree acclimation to the wind, there have been very few studies in the last 25 years on wind acclimation in full-size trees. This is an area of enormous importance in understanding how resistance to the wind varies for different species and between areas with different wind climates. In summary, overall much has been learnt since the 1st Wind and Trees conference but there remain many intriguing and exciting challenges ahead for this multi-disciplinary subject.


Barry Gardiner, Alexis Achim, Bruce Nicoll and Jean-Claude Ruel. 2019. Understanding the interactions between wind and trees: an introduction to the IUFRO 8th Wind and Trees Conference (2017), Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research, https://doi.org/10.1093/forestry/cpz044

Barry Gardiner is a senior researcher at EFI's Planted Forests Facility.