Managing Tribal Resources: Forests

Created by Russanne Low Last updated 8/19/2015

Management of natural resources on tribal lands is an important profession that requires a strong scientific background. In this activity bundle, students are introduced to challenges faced by forest managers of the Menominee Nation. They learn about the importance of old growth forests through a spatial analysis activity, and see how the trees themselves provide information on past climate conditions. They conduct their own field research centered on a tree of their choice, and explore how trees provide important ecosystem services through their role in the Earth system. The National Tree benefit calculator allows students to see the value of a tree, in quantitative terms, including the role of a tree in sequestering carbon dioxide. A suggested authentic assessment might include student group reports applying this knowledge to a local tree stand.

  • Climate Wisconsin | Forestry | Science | Video | PBS LearningMedia

    Forests are like living history books, reflecting changes in both their physical and human environments. Records of such changes may help us plan for changes in the forest over the next century and beyond. For the Menominee Nation, the uncertainties of climate change complicate their goal of thinking seven generations ahead to sustain forest health. PBS LearningMedia Video for Science for 6-13
  • Navajo Technical College | Dendroclimatology | Science | Video | PBS LearningMedia

    In this video segment adapted from Navajo Technical College, meet Steven Chischilly, a professor of environmental science, and hear about his research on climate change. Listen as he describes how climatic conditions, such as moisture and precipitation, contribute to tree growth rates and the amount of carbon that is stored by a tree in different years. Learn about dendroclimatology -- the study of the relationship between climate and the annual growth rings of trees -- and how he is correlating historical weather station data about the Navajo Nation with growth rings. PBS LearningMedia Video for Science for 6-12
  • Identifying the Key Changing Conditions of the Earth System (Grades 10-12)

    This resource is a multi-part lesson related to climate change. Unit 2.2 allows students to examine tree rings from different parts of the country to determine for themselves how changes in climate have affected tree growth.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/M14, 4B/H6, 8C/M11, 11C/H9
  • Tree Impact Study

    This activity allows students to explore the role of a tree in an ecosystem. In this field activity, students document examine the role of a tree in its ecosystem and as part of the environment in a human community. Students measure the tree's dimensions, examine co-residing organisms, leaf litter, and soil, and research the tree's history, using interviews or archival resources. A measuring stick, sturdy string, and an outdoor thermometer are required. An art project concludes the exploration.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 5D/H3
  • National Tree Benefit Calculator

    The Tree Benefit Calculator allows anyone to make a simple estimation of the benefits individual street-side trees provide. This tool is based on i-Tree ( With inputs of location, species and tree size, students will get an understanding of the environmental and economic value trees provide on an annual basis, including the role of the tree in sequestering CO2 and its role in mitigating climate warming.