Estimated losses from Sudden Oak Death in CA, USA

Dan StaleyFebruary 8, 2011

Predicting the economic costs and property value losses attributed to sudden oak death damage in California (2010-2020)

Kovacs et al. 2011. Predicting the economic costs and property value losses attributed to sudden oak death damage in California (2010-2020) Journal of Environmental Management Volume 92, Issue 4, April 2011, Pages 1292-1302. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2010.12.018


Phytophthora ramorum, cause of sudden oak death, is a quarantined, non-native, invasive forest pathogen resulting in substantial mortality in coastal live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and several other related tree species on the Pacific Coast of the United States. We estimate the discounted cost of oak treatment, removal, and replacement on developed land in California communities using simulations of P. ramorum spread and infection risk over the next decade (2010-2020). An estimated 734 thousand oak trees occur on developed land in communities in the analysis area. The simulations predict an expanding sudden oak death (SOD) infestation that will likely encompass most of northwestern California and warrant treatment, removal, and replacement of more than 10 thousand oak trees with discounted cost of $7.5 million. In addition, we estimate the discounted property losses to single family homes of $135 million. Expanding the land base to include developed land outside as well as inside communities doubles the estimates of the number of oak trees killed and the associated costs and losses. The predicted costs and property value losses are substantial, but many of the damages in urban areas (e.g. potential losses from increased fire and safety risks of the dead trees and the loss of ecosystem service values) are not included.


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I remember you Dan. Maybe a couple a years ago I was concerned my oak had SOD because it had a black spot developing on the trunk. But that spot went away! So my oak doesn't have it...yet. It sounds pretty serious overall though. Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 7:22PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

While Sudden Oak Death is still a problem in many areas around the SF Bay Area, it is not spreading/killing indiscriminately in other areas. As an example, there seems to be little damage from this disease in many parts of Berkeley, although it exists here. Trees most at risk appear to be in areas more subject to fog and high winds closer to the coast, as in parts of Marin County and Santa Cruz Counties. I suspect that the trees and fungus are reaching some sort of equilibrium, and California will lose oaks in some areas, but other areas will remain mostly unaffected. It is interesting to note that mortality is even higher for Lithocarpus, and that Umbellularia californica is a carrier species, but is not killed by the fungus. As Umbellularia is so often widespread in combination with Live Oaks in the wild, it compounds the problem in native woodlands. If I had both trees in a garden situation, and the Umbellularia were young, I would remove them as a precautionary measure.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 11:44AM
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