Products form a Sustainable Forest
Welcome. The following program is a teacher's guide for educating students about products
from a sustainable forest. It is based on the education programs delivered by the Natural
Resources Education Centre in Nova Scotia, Canada. Our goal is to allow you, the teacher to
give your students the opportunity to experience our education programs without actually taking
the field trip to our complex.
Many of us do not realize how many items we use every day have their origin in the forest. The
paper you write on, the pencil you write with, the rayon in the clothes you wear, the film in your
camera, and much of the furniture in your home are directly or indirectly made from trees.
The Products From A Sustainable Forest program is designed for grades 5 to 6 to demonstrate
how sound forest management will continually produce, quality forest products while
maintaining our present standard of living. Students will learn the value and the diversity of
products which come from our forests.
To ensure everyone has equal opportunity to access the education for awareness of sound forest
management the following program has been designed. Within this program there will be some
information provided and lesson plan ideas with activities for your class to do.
The 3 A’s
It is important for your students to be aware of how much we rely on our forests. The main
purpose of this program is to distribute awareness and from that we hope each individual will
change their own attitude on this topic. We hope to make a difference in how people think,
especially, when it comes to waste and taking things for granted. With a positive attitude and
willingness to help, everyone is capable of taking some sort of action, whether it be to conserve,
to spread your knowledge, or maybe even learn more.
There are probably many things you were unaware of that rely on some element of a tree. The
following is a list of some of these:
SAP – Maple syrup: maple sugar, maple taffy, maple snow
CORDWOOD – Pulpwood, fuel, charcoal, dye, excelsior, tanning
DISTILATE -Soil conditioners, plastics, tanning material, rayon, photo films, paper, charcoal,
tar, acetic acid
POLES / PILES / POSTS
BARK – Tanning, oil, dye, landscape material
LOGS – Lumber, railway ties, veneer, bolts, mill waste, boards, flooring, furniture, cabinets,
planks, plywood, baskets, handles, staples
STUMPS – Veneer, distilate
ROOTS – Charcoal, pitch, wood tar, pine oil, smoking pipes, tea and oil
To help your students think about products from a sustainable forest you may wish to get them to
collect pictures of various products, activities and occupations that are related to the forest
industry and make a collage.
Have your students find products in your class (or elsewhere if you wish) that are made from
trees and make a list. You may want to distribute some articles yourself, including some less
obvious products such as: Vicks Vaporub rubber gloves, chewing gum, 35 mm film.
Questions to consider:
What would happen if suddenly this product was unavailable?
Would this product‟s disappearance affect any of the necessitites for survival,(
What things are truly necessary for survival? (food, water, shelter and space)
Is the product‟s current use wasteful. If so, how? If it is, could the use be eliminated.
Determine the possible impacts if it was.
Suggest a substitute for this forest product. Is the substitute made from a renewable or
nonrenewable raw material? What would be the environmental impact of the substitute?
Coniferous is another name for softwoods, they produce cones and have narrow leaves or
Deciduous is another name for hardwoods, they have broad leaves which drop to the ground
Red / White / Jack Pine Sugar / Red Maple
Tamarack White / Yellow Birch
Hemlock Trembling Aspen
Balsam Fir Balsam Popular
Red/Black/White Spruce American Elm
Eastern White Cedar Black / White Ash
It is important to be aware of how much we rely on our forests for many things and how we
must value them. As responsible individuals we must understand how important it is to maintain
our forests because of the rapid growth in population and the limited supply of the resources
already being reduced. We must stress how quickly urbanization occurs and the forested land
shrinks. As we can see from the pie graph below the division of the forested land has changed a
The above graphics illustrate how demands on our forests have increased. It is important that we
become aware of how we can sustain what is left. The activities offered in this lesson should
help your students realize that without using trees, we would be very limited in various products
available to us. However, with proper management we can utilize our forest and still sustain
them for future generations.
Sustaining our forests does not mean we cannot use them. Sustainability refers to proper
management of our forests. It is important for your students to know that cutting down trees is
not always a bad thing. To get the most we can from our trees as well as keep them in a healthy
and stable environment we should focus on the idea of thinning and harvesting them. With the
proper knowledge of trees one can continue the growth cycle naturally, without the extra cost of
replanting. We should know that a woodlot owner can keep their lot full of fast growing trees by
properly thinning and harvesting them so they can grow to their potential.
To emphasize the concept of thinning a woodlot, the following activities will help to demonstrate
the importance of space to living things.
A very simple and effective demonstration is to plant bean seeds. Have your students plant the
seeds in Styrofoam cups with various impediments to growth. Record the results and determine
the ideal conditions for maximum growth.
You Will Need
Styrofoam cups, bean seeds, soil, water, rocks, grass seed, sticks and anything else that would
interfere with growth.
Determine if you want each student to plant seeds or divide the class into small groups.
Distribute the cups, soil and bean seeds and let the students plant them. The next step is to divide
the impediments and distribute them to the students to add to their „garden‟.
After only a few days, the students should start to see evidence of growth. Depending on how
much space and water was provided, an obvious difference in growth rate should start to appear
among the various „gardens‟.
Another way to demonstrate the importance of spacing is to make a small square on the floor of
your classroom and cram as many students as possible into it. The square can be made with
masking tape. It should not take long for your students to see how important spacing is from this
activity. They should notice how much more comfortable their classmates are when they are not
sharing the same space.
Remember when a tree shares the same space not only is it fighting for comfort but it is also
fighting to get enough sunlight, water, and other nutrients. When trees encounter very little
spacing their growth tends to be effected, therefore decreasing the tree‟s ability to reach its full
The issue of spacing involving trees, brings us back to the idea of thinning for harvesting
purposes, therefore allowing a woodcutter to continue the cycle of a sustainable forests.
When teaching about harvesting and cutting trees it is important to stress, that like every living
thing, trees do not live forever, so it is not a bad thing to cut them, when the time is right. Every
individual species has their own life expectancy and if you are aware of that, as a woodcutter,
you can help your woodlot rather than harm it. With this knowledge one will be able to estimate
a good time to start the cutting stage. Another point to consider as a woodcutter is the
biodiversity created when you cut and leave some wood behind; like stumps, roots, branches and
tree tops. These will break down and provide food and nutrients for the next forest.
The determination of a tree‟s age is very important to know when approaching the harvesting
and thinning stage. By comparing its growth to its expected growth a woodcutter can make the
proper decision of what to do with the tree. If there is no background to help determine its age
an instrument called an increment borer can be used to assist with this determination.
The increment borer works by manually drilling it in the tree. You only go a little past half and
then pull out the corking sample and count the rings. Each ring represents one year‟s growth.
To prevent future damage to the tree the corking should be placed back in it. Tree damage and
disease is usually caused by bugs so by replacing the corking bugs should not be able to enter the
hole. As the tree grows the hole will seal up just like a scratch on a person.
TAKING A CORE AFTER EXAMINATION THE CORE IS REPLACED IN THE TREE
determining a tree‟s age it is important to
remember that its appearance can be very deceiving. It is not uncommon to find some skinny
trees to be older than some fat ones. When this occurs it is usually a sign of the skinny tree is not
meeting its requirements to reach its expectant size
To help trees from being a candidate to this defect a woodlot owner should be aware of how to
manage a forest, using correct thinning and harvesting techniques.
Earlier in the lesson urbanization and limited forest land was mentioned. This is important to
realize and be aware of how quickly changes occur.
The following is a suggested activity for your students to get them thinking about changes which
have occurred in a specific locality as a result of people‟s activities. They are to distinguish
between what appears to be (1) planned and unplanned and (2) helpful and harmful changes.
Divide the class into five groups. Ask each group to study their community land use in one of
five time periods: the present; 25 years ago; 50 years ago; 100 years ago; and 200 years ago.
Ask each group to collect data by talking to seniors, looking through community records and old
newspapers, including old maps and photographs. The next step is to make a map illustrating the
land–use made to the same scale. It is helpful in comparing the data on the maps if the students
agree in advance to a key, and all use same in making their maps.
After the maps are completed, the students can compare the land-use patterns reflected by the
maps, applying categories of analysis:
Has the community‟s size changed? If so, how?
Has the land-use patterns changed? What uses have increased/ decreased?
Have any of the original uses disappeared?
How have uses, such as schools, housing, industry and open space changed?
Ask the students, either individually or small groups, to show the completed maps to residents
who have lived in the community from 25 to 50 years, asking these people about their
perceptions of the changes in their community. If possible, the interviews should be recorded on
tape. From the interviews, the students can determine:
The ratio of the people surveyed who believed the land--use changes were harmful as compared
to those who believed they were helpful.
Reasons the residents gave for their opinions on the changes.
Whether any residents who believed a change would be helpful at the time it took place and
now think it was detrimental to the community. Whether any of them believe a change they
originally thought was harmful has turned out to be beneficial.
Whether the changes made appear to have been planned or unplanned.
A general sense of the attitudes of these older people towards life within their community.
The students might then look for any trends, discussing what land-use changes appear to be
coming in the future. Do the students think these will be helpful or harmful? Ask them to state
reasons and criteria to support their opinions. Ask the students to suggest mechanisms that could
be used to ensure that most changes will be beneficial.
The following activity is designed to help your students be able to describe some ways in which
environments influence the cultures and economies of different peoples of the country.
Divide your class into several groups. Ask each group to choose one of the forest regions in
Canada. There are ten to choose from; Coast, Montane, Columbia, Subalpine, Boreal,
Grasslands, Tundra, Great lakes – St. Lawrence, Deciduous, and Acadian. Develop an oral
presentation of “a day in the life of ” someone living or working in that forest. The oral
communication technique used could be role-playing, a radio play “broadcast ” from behind a
curtain, a man-in-the-street interview, or something similar.
(See information about these regions on the next page.)
After all the presentations have been made, the students might;
Identify and categorize similarities and differences between the forest types.
Compare the effects of people on each forest.
Determine how each forests‟ characteristics have affected the economy and culture of the
people who live within and near them.
Determine whether each type of forest would be capable of supporting the same number of
Describe any correlation between the residents‟ level of technology and their interaction with
Identify and describe implications of problems related to management and continued use of
each of these forests by human and wildlife populations.
This exercise should allow your students to understand and be aware of the many different
forests in Canada, and how maintaining our forests and keeping them healthy is a very important
goal. It is very easy for something to become extinct and with that in mind one should always
respect our trees and the products and jobs produced from them.
Forest Regions In Canada
Coast – We usually think of the rain forest as being the jungles of the tropics, but we have rain
forests in Canada as well. On the Pacific coast of British Columbia, the rainfall can be as much
as four metres per year, most of it falling in the winter season. The result is a forest of giant
conifers. The lower mountain slopes and rugged valleys are clothed in knee–deep mosses and
head high ferns, which live beneath huge cedars and hemlocks. Douglas–fir is an associate in the
south. In the north, it is Sitka spruce.
Montane – The rain shower of the western coastal mountains creates the dry–belt Montane
Forest Region. Ponderosa pine extends from the US into the southern portions of this region.
Douglas–fir occurs here; however, in this region, its companions are commonly trembling aspen
or lodgepole pine. Trees often grow in scattered stands with communities of prairie grasses on
the ground beneath, cropped by grazing animals such as elk or buffalo.
Columbia – Some of the interior river valleys of southern British Columbia are mild in
temperature like the coast, but with somewhat less rainfall. Consequently, the forests of the
Columbia region are similar to that of the coast, with many of the same species growing to a
more moderate size and having a shorter life expectancy. Cedar, hemlock and Douglas–fir are
most common. The Columbia Forest Region does not extend far enough north for Sitka spruce
to become a part of the forest community.
Subalpine – High on the mountain slopes of BC and Alberta, where mountain sheep prance from
valley to crest and marmots whistle from the rocks, climatic conditions are similar to the Boreal
forest of the north. This is the Subalpine Forest Region. Boreal species such as black and white
spruce share the area with their western counterparts like lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce.
As growing conditions get more severe at higher altitudes, trees give way to a covering of shrubs
and lichens, in a progression much like that found as one moves north from the Boreal region to
Boreal – Most of Canada‟s land is in the Boreal Region. This is the coniferous forest of the
north where the silence of the long cold winters is broken by the howl of a hungry wolf and the
growing season is a short burst of vibrant life. Black spruce and Jack pine are typical northern
species. In the northwest, Jack pine is replaced by lodgepole pine. Boreal hardwoods include
white birch and trembling aspen. Much of Canada‟s pulp and paper industry is based on the
trees growing in this region.
Grasslands – The Canadian prairie contains this forest region which has very few natural trees.
However, prairie river bottoms have enough moisture to support lush stands of cottonwood. The
rest of the environment is dominated by grass.
Tundra – The other treeless region of Canada is the Tundra. Here growing seasons are just too
short to sustain tree species, except the occasional dwarf willow or birch, found in protected
Great Lakes – St. Lawrence – Between the coniferous forest of the north and the hardwood
area to the south is the mixed wood region of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence. Typical trees
found in this region‟s moderate climate are white pine, red pine and yellow birch, none of which
are unique to the region. Plants and animals such as maples, grey squirrels, and white–tailed
deer extend their range into this area from the south, while boreal species like spruces, moose
and red squirrels are common, particularly in the north.
Deciduous – The mild climate, generous rainfall, and productive soils of extreme Southern
Ontario create the Deciduous Forest Region, a northward extension of the Carolinian Forest of
the United States. Hardwoods predominate, with many species contributing to the richness of
the forest. There are eight kinds of oak and four native maples. Many species of trees and
shrubs, such as tulip trees and poison sumac are found only here and nowhere else in Canada.
Much of the native vegetation of the Deciduous Region is gone, having been replaced by open
fields of agriculture. However, animals such as opossums and European hares have adapted
Acadian – The Appalachian soils and Maritime climate of Eastern Canada provide productive
soils and a relatively cool climate. The Acadian Forest Region is the result. Like the Great
Lakes– St. Lawrence, this region is transitional between hardwood and coniferous forests;
however, the Acadian Forest Region has particular soils and climate which make it unique.
Common species include three different spruces, five maples and balsam fir. People have been
exploiting the Acadian Forest Region for nearly four hundred years and it still supports major
industries of the Maritimes, but much of the forest has changed radically over time.
The following activity is provided as a thinking exercise to see how well your students
understand the importance of determining the different uses for our forested land and how
valuable it is to everyone.
Here are five Taylor Woodlot examples. Divide your class into groups and allow them to adopt
the role of the various landowners. There is an attached map which can be used as their woodlot.
You are unemployed and this parcel of land was left to you by your parents for your own
personal use. The prospects of finding employment do seem to be very positive in the near
future. What would you do with this woodlot?
You are a group of “Environmentalists”, who strictly adhere to preservation principles, i.e..: no
cutting of trees, no hunting or fishing, etc. However, you purchase this property for the sum of
$20, 000 and this loan must be repaid in five years. What would you do with this woodlot?
You are members of a local “Bird Society”. Recently one of your society members died and
left this parcel of land to the membership for the sole purpose of developing a bird sanctuary.
You are a nonprofit organization and as a result any fund-raising must be for the promotion of
the sanctuary and not a money-making proposition for members‟ personal use. What would you
do with this woodlot?
You are owners and operators of a large sawmill located within a short driving distance of this
woodlot. It was decided to purchase this parcel of land for $20, 000 because of the quality of
sawlogs in a few of the forest stands. You have a standing overseas market for this lumber and
would like to fulfill the contract as soon as possible. What would you do with this woodlot?
You are a group of business people who live in Toronto and earn an average of $70, 000 per
year. This parcel of land in Nova Scotia was left to you in an estate settlement. You have no
intentions of moving to Nova Scotia. What would you do with this woodlot?
Products from a Sustainable Forest:
Taylor Woodlot Map
For a fun way to review, Use the
Make your own story
The following word search is a fun way to learn and review.