Forestry Curriculum Guidelines

Click here for a list of Forestry agencies and general websites

Click here for a list of Forestry study guides and glossaries

Click here for a list of Forestry sample tests

Key Point 1: Tree Physiology and Tree and Shrub Identification

Learning Objectives:

  1. Know the parts and tissues of a tree and be able to explain the growth cycle and the life cycle of a tree.
  2. Understand the processes of photosynthesis and respiration and how they are important to the growth and reproduction of trees.
  3. Identify common tree species without a key and identify specific or unusual trees and shrubs through the use of a key.

Suggested Activities:

  1. Identify trees and shrubs using leaf and seed samples.

Resources in italics are supplied by North American Envirothon. Items in bold are Virginia-specific:

  1. Physiology of Trees (Michigan State University Extension)
  2. Guide to Common Trees of Virginia (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  3. Guide to Common Shrubs and Woody Vines of Virginia (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  4. How a Tree Grows (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  5. Forestry in Virginia (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  6. Identifying Trees (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  7. Virginia in the Fall (Virginia Department of Forestry)

Click here for additional resources for Key Point 1 (this list will bring you to Envirothon programs across the US and Canada)

Key Point 2: Forest Ecology

Learning Objectives:

  1. Know the typical forest structure: canopy, understory and ground layers and crown classes.
  2. Understand forest ecology concepts and factors affecting them, including the relationship between soil and forest types, tree communities, regeneration, competition and primary and secondary succession.
  3. Identify the abiotic and biotic factors in a forest ecosystem and understand how these factors affect tree growth and forest development. Consider factors such as climate, insects, microorganisms and wildlife.

Suggested Activities:

  1. Identify and describe the life cycle of forest pests and invasive plants and describe their impact to a forest ecosystem. Research integrated pest management strategies for selected pests.
  2. Draw food webs of a mature deciduous forest and a mature coniferous forest. Explain how wildlife habitat relates to the forest community and describe niches of various organisms that live in both of these ecosystems.
  3. Examine a “tree cookie” or core sample taken with an increment borer to determine age, growing conditions, insect and disease damage and past weather conditions.
  4. Use the Project Learning Tree Activity 7 (below in resources) to explore patterns of change brought about by fires in a forest ecosystem.

Resources in italics are supplied by North American Envirothon. Items in bold are Virginia-specific:

  1. Managing Forests for Fish and Wildlife (USDA-NRCS)
  2. Dendrochronology (GLOBE Canada)
  3. Understanding Fire Activity (Project Learning Tree)
  4. Outdoor Fire Laws in Virginia (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  5. Virginia’s Alien Invaders (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  6. Don’t Move Firewood! (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  7. Emerald Ash Borer (USDA Forest Service Bulletin)
  8. Chestnut Blight (About.com via New Jersey Envirothon)
  9. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (New Jersey Envirothon)
  10. Dutch Elm Disease (New York Envirothon)
  11. How to Manage Dutch Elm Disease (New York Envirothon)

Click here for additional resources for Key Point 2 (this list will bring you to Envirothon programs across the US and Canada)

Key Point 3: Sustainable Forest Management

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the term silviculture and be able to explain the uses of the following silviculture techniques: thinning, prescribed burning, single tree and group tree selection, shelterwood method, clearcutting with and without seed trees and coppice management.
  2. Explain the following silviculture systems: clearcutting; seed tree method, even-aged management, uneven-aged management, shelterwood and selection.
  3. Understand the methodology and uses of the following silviculture treatments: planting, weeding, pre-commercial thinning (PCT), commercial thinning and harvesting.
  4. Know how to use forestry tools and equipment in order to measure tree diameter, height and basal area.
  5. Understand how the following issues are affected by forest health and management: biodiversity, forest fragmentation, forest health, air quality, aesthetics, fire, global climate change and recreation.
  6. Understand how forestry management practices and policy affect sustainability.
  7. Understand how economic, social and ecological factors influences forest management decisions.
  8. Learn how science and technology are being utilized in all aspects of forest management.

Suggested Activities:

  1. Use the following forestry tools and know how they are used in forest management: clinometer, increment borer, diameter tape, Biltmore stick, Abney level, compass, prism and relescope.
  2. Use a variety of volume tables to calculate the volume of lumber for several different tree species.
  3. Learn the interdependencies of forests and fire in healthy ecosystems through Project Learning Tree Activity 8 (in resources).
  4. Compare two different forest types. For example, compare an eastern hardwood forest in PA to a coniferous forest in Oregon. Identify economic, social and ecological factors that affect how both of these forests are managed.
  5. Explain the Information Technology used to monitor and productively manage forests and give specific examples of how this technology is being utilized in all aspects of forest management.

Resources in italics are supplied by North American Envirothon. Items in bold are Virginia-specific:

  1.  Woodland Management: Measuring Your Forests (University of Maryland Extension)
  2. Forest Stewardship: Timber Harvesting (Penn State Extension)
  3. Fire Management (Project Learning Tree)
  4. Forest Health (Temperate Forest Foundation)
  5. Technology in the Forest (Temperate Forest Foundation)
  6. Clearcutting Myths and Facts (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  7. Silviculture Best Management Practices (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  8. Tables for Measuring Timber (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  9. Virginia’s Forests (USDA-Forest Service)
  10. Virginia Forestry Laws (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  11. A Guide for Virginia Forest Landowners (Virginia Cooperative Extension)

Click here for additional resources for Key Point 3 (this list will bring you to Envirothon programs across the US and Canada)

Key Point 4: Trees as Important Renewable Resources

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the importance and value of trees in urban and community settings and know the factors affecting their health and survival.
  2. Understand the economic value of forests and know many of the products they provide to people and society.
  3. Explain the “Ecosystem Services” provided by trees and understand why trees and forests are important to human health, recreation, wildlife and watershed quality.

Suggested Activities:

  1. Create a display showing the value of trees in both urban and suburban settings. Identify the factors that affect their health and survival and explain how to properly care for trees in an urban environment.
  2. Make a list of products and by-products that come from your home and are made from trees. Describe the chemical and physical properties of trees used in making these products.

Resources in italics are supplied by North American Envirothon. Items in bold are Virginia-specific:

  1. Products from Trees (Arkansas Forestry Commission)
  2. Benefits from Community Trees and Forests (American Forests)
  3. Trees as Ecosystem Services (American Forests)
  4. Urban Forestry Defined (University of Washington)
  5. State of the Forest Report (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  6. Ecosystem Services of Forests (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  7. The Value of Virginia’s Forests (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  8. Brush Piles for Wildlife (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  9. Trees and Wildlife (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  10. Trees Protect Water (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  11. Wildlife and Your Forest (Virginia Department of Forestry)
  12. The Economic Impact of Virginia’s Forests (Virginia Cooperative Extension)
  13. Trees for Urban Areas in Virginia (Virginia Cooperative Extension)

Click here for additional resources for Key Point 4 (this list will bring you to Envirothon programs across the US and Canada)