Why Southeastern Forests and Climate Change?

Why 2 - Project Learning Tree
Climate change has been identified as the single biggest challenge that faces society today, but not everyone is aware of that and some people don’t agree.

We believe that students and their parents need to acquire current information; the background to make sense out of existing data; the willingness to listen to different points of view; and the skills to work together to help families, neighborhoods, communities, municipalities, states, and nations approach the challenges that climate change may generate.


Pine forests in the Southeast provide critical economic and ecological services to U.S. citizens.

Forests in this region contain one-third of the carbon sequestered in forests in the lower 48 states. In 2009, more than 1 million jobs linked to the Southeast’s forests.


The potential impacts of climate change on southeastern forests could be significant.

Changes in climate are likely to affect the amount and timing of rainfall across the region. This might mean that wildfire and pest outbreaks could increase in frequency and severity.  This module helps students understand the challenges and opportunities forest managers and landowners might consider as they plant and manage their forests. Seedlings that landowners plant this year will grow to be forests that are exposed to the climate of the future.
Why - John Seiler, Virginia Tech
Climate change is more meaningful to students when examples of impacts are local and they are empowered to participate in creating solutions.

Popular examples of change include those happening at the poles, in the oceans, and on mountaintops. Climate change has been noticed in the Southeast, although it is more obvious farther north. The complexity and scale of climate change make it difficult for students to contemplate how they might make a difference. Our pilot test suggests that the two-prong approach of using research-based information and strategies for solutions in this module help empower students with knowledge, skills, and a hopeful outlook for their futures.


The module background provides more information about this topic.