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The Nature Conservancy, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College (SERC)


6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Geography, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans, 45 minutes
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Activity - Outdoors
  • Videos, 4 minutes, 1 second
  • Lesson Plans, 45 minutes
  • Videos, 51 seconds
  • Videos, 40 seconds
  • Videos, 52 seconds
  • Videos, 51 seconds
  • Videos, 24 seconds
  • Videos, 37 seconds
  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus

North America, United States


PDF, Downloadable MP4/M4V

Seeing the Wood for the Trees: Introduction to Sustainable Forestry

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  • In these two 45-minute lessons, students will compare different sustainable and unsustainable forestry methods and distinguish between them, analyze satellite images, collect and organize field data about the variety of tree species in their own area, and draw conclusions about the importance and complexity of maintaining healthy and biologically diverse forests. 

Teaching Tips


  • Clear learning intentions, required resources, and outcomes of lessons are provided.
  • Key vocabulary terms are included.
  • A variety of learning methods for engagement are included, such as the use of digital tools, video content, peer discussions, outdoor learning, and critical thinking questions. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students are required to be able to read and interpret grid maps provided by Google Maps.
  • Tree guides are needed for the second lesson, but online options are suggested. 
  • Computer access per student group is required.
  • On page 5, step 9 of Part 1: Engage, the link for students to look at forest cover is no longer working. You can use this other NASA website link instead.


  • In the Extend phase of the 5-E's model, research tasks are available for students to further their knowledge and understanding.
  • Question prompts are available to differentiate when students are required to draw conclusions. 
  • Biology, environmental science, and ecology classes can use these lessons to illustrate the importance of land use changes on biodiversity, habitat loss, and the loss of ecosystem services.  Have students research the effects of clearcutting on water pollution, landslides, topsoil erosion, and desertification.
  • Social studies classes can use one or both of these lessons to connect unsustainable land use practices to climate change and environmental justice topics, as many Indigenous peoples are negatively affected by clearcutting in or near their ancestral lands.
Scientist Notes
Students will have proficiency in interpreting satellite data and taking field surveys (ground-truthing) of the forested areas under investigation. This resource is recommended.
  • Science
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      • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
      • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
    • LS1: Structures and Processes
      • MS-LS1-4. Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.
      • MS-LS1-6. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
    • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Within Ecosystems
      • MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
      • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
      • MS-LS2-5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • MS-PS1-3. Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.6.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing one’s thinking clearly.
      • SL.6.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
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