The concern for the fate of forest ecosystems under climate change demands the development of a prompt and effective system for detecting the impacts of pressure factors, such as rising temperatures, drought conditions, and extreme climatic events. In ongoing European monitoring programs, the health condition of trees is only assessed visually as a matter of course and there is limited evidence that enhanced crown defoliation implies physiological disturbance and reduced tree growth. The progress of the research makes it possible to apply methods developed in experimental conditions in forests for the fast and reliable assessment of impacts and of stress conditions. In this review, we analyze the most promising indicators of tree and forest health (at individual plant and ecosystem levels) for their potential application in forest ecosystems and their ability to support and integrate the traditional visual assessment, provide information on influential factors, and improve the prediction of stand dynamics and forest productivity.
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