Activity 5: Managing Forests for Change
This activity invites students to collectively develop a systems diagram of a southeastern forest, illustrating how the factors that affect tree growth are connected. A video of a forest landowner and/or supplemental student pages provide information about the forest management priorities and opportunities. Using this information along with management strategy and climate scenario cards, students use and add to their systems model to show how management strategies affect tree growth, how climate change may affect tree growth, and how management options may help the forest thrive.
Full Activity (with student pages included)
- Forest Systems Diagram Student Page
- Private Family Landowner Student Page
- Management Cards Student Page
- Climate Scenario Cards Student Page
Teacher Presentations and Notes
- Building a Forest Systems Diagram Presentation
- Building a Forest Systems Diagram Teacher Notes
- Suggested Solution Diagrams Presentation
- Suggested Solution Diagrams Teacher Notes
- Introduction to Southeastern Forests Presentation
- Introduction to Southeastern Forests Teacher Notes
- Forest Encyclopedia Network – This website provides a wealth of scientific knowledge and tools related to forest ecosystems.
- My Land Plan: Resource for Woodland Owners – Resource for landowners to aid in the management of their land, with a Land Plan tool that includes a mapping feature.
- Protecting Your Forest Asset: Managing Risks in Changing Times – Pamphlet that reviews healthy forest strategies and approaches to decrease the risks associated with projected climate change impacts.
- Southern Forest Futures Project – Website with summary reports, a webinar, and other resources related to forecasted changes for southern forests.
- Systems Thinking Essay – Short essay describing how ecological understanding requires shifting to a new way of thinking.
- Systems Thinking in Action – Website with tools, resources, and information about systems thinking and organizational learning.
I needed to work more closely with the students and we did the model together. I enlarged and cut out each of the components and laminated the cards so students could place them on a larger piece of paper and draw the arrows as we completed the model together.
I had the most response and most active learning in my classroom with this two-day activity. The conversations in the groups the second day when we added the management squares to the forest systems model were engaging and lively. The discussions with climate change and forest landowner went well.
I found this activity the most useful—the causal loop diagrams made the relationships so clear to many students. If this had been done earlier in the school year, I would have carried this activity over to almost every topic we covered.
A student noted that this was their favorite activity in the course, as it helped the better understand the relationships of the different systems we studied.
The Background section was challenging but appropriately so for both my students and myself. The students found it to be very informative!
Students are so used to being fed information; this activity made them apply and work with new resources. A great tool for challenging students.