Module DXX-2017:
Forest Health

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Lars Markesteijn

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to familiarise foresters and those concerned with forest ecosystems with the forest and tree health problems which have caused and are likely to have significant environmental, social and economic impact in the UK and the world’s forests, whether in commercial plantation or ‘natural’ forest ecosystems. The range of organisms covered will give a general overview of the organisms causing problems including viruses, bacteria, fungi, fungal like organisms, arthropods and mammals and parasitic plants. The module will follow a classical disease triangle approach whereby interacting factors of plant defence, organismal pathogenicity and environmental factors are considered. In case studies historical and current problems will be examined and their causes for wide scale spread and high levels of disease will be explored. The case studies will focus on a number of the newer exotic problems which have impacted on the UK's forest estate and will also examine the potential reasons for this and consider how these will be overcome and the longer term outcomes. Distinctions and comparisons will be made between the pathogens which have been in the UK forest ecosystems for millennia. The in depth focus of the module will concentrate on both fungal and insect issues and will examine future scenarios for forest health in line with climate change predictions. Some of the course content will focus on policy issues.

Course content

Forest Health, a definition Introduction to the problems in the forest: biotic, abiotic and interactions, particularly with climatic factors.
An examination of forest population dynamics and a comparison between managed plantation and natural forest ecosystems and its impact on forest heath Epidemiology: the kinetics of diseases. An introduction to new and emerging tree health issues within the UK and current concerns within forests and urban tree ecosystems Pests and pathogens of concern, and causes of problems The importance of plant and fungal genetics and quarantine Indigenous and long established problems, their impact and control Past failures in forestry and major international tree pathology events over the last 2 centuries.

Assessment Criteria


Grade D- to D+ Have a basic understanding of tree and forest health issues, show a basic knowledge of the conditions and organisms involved in different pest and disease severity


Grade C- to B+ As above but at a higher level of understanding and be able to demonstrate evidence of reading original papers rather than grey literature digests.


Grade A- and above As above but extensive level of knowledge and understanding and evidence of widespread use of both current and historical literature.

Learning outcomes

  1. Critical understanding of the organisms likely to cause economic losses to trees and their significance

  2. Critical understanding of the reasons for spread of, and success of, organisms causing economic losses

  3. Critical understanding of environmental factors which determine the development of pests and diseases

  4. Critical understanding of different management and control options for long term tree-crops and for more natural forest ecosystems

  5. General understanding of the likely effects of climate change on forest health

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Seminar write up 15

Each student is allocated a topic to give a short (up to 15 mins) presentation on a topic of relevance to current involving tree health in the UK or worldwide in a series of seminars. Each seminar is a themed topic.


Students to answer two essay questions out of a choice of five.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

External visit

2*2 hour talks by visiting researchers


1*2 hour plenary session to discuss findings, make conclusions and recommendations for plant health

Private study

Private and guided self-study


12*1 hour lectures


5*3 hour student-led seminars.


1*5 hour field visit


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Develop and identify research question(s) and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  • Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Awareness of the concepts of spatial and temporal scale in understanding processes and relationships.
  • Appreciation of the reciprocal nature of human-environmental relationships.
  • Apply appropriate techniques for presenting spatial and/or temporal trends in data.
  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  • Undertake practical work to ensure competence in basic experimental skills.
  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
  • Recognize the moral, ethical and social issues relating to the subject.
  • Collect and record data generated by a diverse range of methods.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Reading list

in addition to the above students are led to a number of topic specific links via the Blackboard site

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module