Plantation forestry in Zambia is based mainly on non-native Eucalyptus and Pinus species and constitutes an important component of the country's economy. The productivity of these plantations is, however, threatened by several factors, including fungal pathogens that reduce timber quality and cause tree mortality. In this paper we present a review of diseases affecting plantation forestry and highlight factors that may favour their development and severity in the country. Plantation health management in the country is seriously hampered by a general lack of information on pests and diseases affecting these plantations. In this regard, most research has been done more than 30 years ago, and very few pathogens have been identified to species level using modern identification techniques.
Recent surveys identified several previously unknown diseases of Eucalyptus spp. in the country, emphasizing the importance of renewed research on this topic. The impact of diseases associated with these pathogens has been exacerbated by poor plantation management, insufficient financial resources and lack of human capacity to deal with them. Successful plantation management in Zambia will require increased and improved training of foresters regarding tree health issues, more effective quarantine, silvicultural practices, and importantly, the establishment of sound breeding and selection programmes. These will require considerable commitment from Government, commercial companies and research and educational organizations in the country.