Forest management techniques are used in national parks, wildlife refuges and even on commercial properties throughout the United States and the world. In commercial settings, forest management is usually geared toward the visual interest and productivity of a forest. Forest management in parks and wildlife areas is geared toward the maintenance and improvement of the health and diversity of the forest's ecosystems. Whatever the goal, forest management can teach kids a lot about a forest and its needs.
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Kids will be interested to learn that there are three major forest types, tropical, temperate and boreal. Only temperate forests are found in the United States. Temperate forests are sometimes broken down into two categories, deciduous and coniferous. A tropical forest contains the most diverse animal life and can be found in warm climates near the equator. Boreal forests are found in the northern regions of the world, where it is the coldest. About 2/3 of the boreal forests in the world are located in Scandinavia.
Tropical forests are commonly filled with vines, mosses and flowers in addition to large leafed trees. In a temperate deciduous forest there are mosses, ferns and wildflowers along side the dominate maple and oak trees. Temperate coniferous forests are dominated by evergreens like pine and fir, but there are also shrubs and mosses. Boreal forests are mainly made up of thick evergreens. Kids may enjoy a visit to a nearby forest to try to identify what type of forest it is.
How Forests Help People
Forests help people indirectly by providing homes for animals like bats and fox, which help control the population of bugs and rodents. Forests also help people directly. Trees release oxygen into the air, and people breathe oxygen. In addition to making oxygen, trees and other plant roots help stop soil erosion by providing an underground structure. People also use trees to make lumber, paper and even perfume and medicine. Kids can look for things in their home or school that are made from trees.
Sustainability in Forestry
Conservation of forest land might be the most important thing that a kid can learn about forest management. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Defenders of Wildlife both endorse the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which certifies timber as having been harvested appropriately and in a sustainable fashion. By asking their parents to purchase products with the FSC seal, kids can help promote responsible forestry. Other ways that kids can help is by reducing paper use, recycling paper and asking their parents to purchase only recycled paper products.
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