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Our Changing Forests: How Do Forests Grow and Change Over Time?

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Research Questions & Overview

How do forests grow and change over time in response to different environments and land use?
How will forest composition and growth respond to future natural and human-caused disturbances?

Grade Levels: 7-12
Minimum number of data collection field visits: 2 field sessions total.

Our Changing Forests Project Resources

Related Research:

Ecologist Edward Faison studies long-term forest monitoring and change. Ed also co-leads the Ungulate-Forest Dynamics project at Harvard Forest's Long-term Ecological Research Site and is coordinator of the Wildlands and Woodlands Stewardship Science Project. Much of the content of this Schoolyard project has been adapted from the Woodlands and Wildlands Stewardship-Science initiative.

Schoolyard Research Methods:

Autumn: 2 visits- This protocol would require a minimum of two field site visit(s) with students, in addition to teacher field site setup session(s) prior to the start of the school year.

Students can contribute to this study by monitoring a 20meter by 20 meter plot in a wooded area near their schools. Students will record species identification, and measure Diameter of Breast Height (DBH) of trees in the study plot every other year. An additional plot will be set up and monitored in the second year of the study and continuing on alternate years of the 1st plot. Students also record site information related to topography, evidence of disturbance, invasive species or wildlife presence, etc. as part of a site description report for each plot updated each year that plot is monitored.

  • Teacher participates in the Summer Institute for Teachers to learn project content and methods. Teachers are provided with project materials.
  • Teacher locates wooded plot area in schoolyard or local conservation area, and maps the research site.
  • Teacher and students collect data during designated time periods 2 times a year.
  • Teachers are encouraged to attend one of the fall Data Workshops.
  • Teacher and students provide data to the Online Database.
  • Data are posted on the Harvard Forest online database.
  • Teacher and students may choose to analyze their data and compare it to regional schoolyard data.
  • Teacher and students are encouraged to come meet the scientist at the Harvard Forest.
  • Teachers are encouraged to attend the Spring Workshop.