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Creating a Working Problem Statement
To help students create a Working Problem Statement (WPS), you may want to pose some introductory questions such as the following:

What is a policy?

What are capital assets?

What is a natural asset?

What are nonrenewable natural assets?

What are renewable natural assets ?

Is it possible to harvest a forest the way an agracultural crop is harvested?


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What is the focus of this module? The purpose of this module is to help students realize how complicated environmental issues have become. As students attempt to find a balance between the needs of conservationists and the timber industry, they are confront reasonable options including but not limited to the conservation and use of the old growth of the Pacific Northwest.

What are some interelated teaching perspectives? The module provides opportunities to bring in issues that are political, scientific, environmental, social, economic and historical.

What is the compelling problem that students will face in this module? The dilemma is to make recommendations that balance the benefits of a healthy forest with the economic needs of the people who log it.

What issues will students encounter as they work through this module? There are the science issues--and by no means agreement among the scientists on those--the political and economic interplay--especially the conflicts among the preservationists versus the conservationists, and the conglomerates versus the four- and five-man custom cutters and cedar shake manufacturers, the social issues of what it means to live in a "resource community," the historical approaches the U.S. and the Province of B.C. have taken towards resource extraction, and even some of the literature written during 300 years of use and misuse.

What is the role of remote sensing in this module? Photographs of the temperate rainforest taken from the ground tend to be limited because you can see only to the horizon just a few miles away. Aerial surveys and photographs provide a better view, and a faster means of gathering information. However, the best way to quickly see what is really happening to old-growth and regrowing forests is to look at them from space using satellite images. Working the three remote sensing activities in the module, your students can learn how to obtain vital information about forests from aerial and satellite images.

The remote sensing activities of "Temperate Rainforest" module provides your students the opportunity to use part of a Landsat image to see forest conditions in detail on Mt. Rainier and the surrounding countryside. The image is presented with that colors approximate what you would see if you were flying over the area in full sunlight on a cloudless day. When using this and other satellite images, it is difficult to figure out what you are really looking at. The best way to find out what different shapes and colors in a satellite image really are is to do "ground truthing." Traveling to Mt. Rainier to ground truth the satellite images is out of the question, so we will try a different approach: online "virtual ground truthing."

In the "Virtual Ground Truthing" activity, a true-color part of a Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) image of area around Mt. Rainier is used. Click on the photograph, and an enlargement of the satellite image of the area will appear. Simply click within a box to see the photograph of that area. The numbered yellow boxes represent the approximate outlines of areas for which aerial photographs are available. The three boxes with letters in them present an enlargement, but no aerial photograph is available for these areas. Using the numbered yellow boxes, students can look for specific colors, unusual boundary shapes, and prominent features such as mountains or lakes to help orient the learner within the different images. Subsequently, the students can use what they learned from the aerial photographs while virtually ground truthing the satellite image to make a land-use map of the entire image. Using NIH Image software, the students can outline different features of the map and choose a set of colors to represent the different land-use types they outlined. When finished, they can label the map and make a legend identifying the meaning of each color. Finally, they can compare their map with the original satellite image and should be able to see how much of the forest has been cut down and where the stands of old-growth trees remain.

Two additional remote sensing activities are included in the "Temperate Rainforest" module. In the Forest Management from Space activity, the students will first to see and then to measure the effect of forest management policy on preservation of the old-growth forest within different jurisdictions of the Rainier area. Using NIH Image software, along with a TIFF version of the Rainier area map showing only jurisdictional boundaries, and one of the images from the Virtual Ground Truthing activity, the students should be able see where the old-growth forests are located relative to jurisdictional lines and eventually make some measurements. They can find the total area and old-growth forest area for each jurisdictional type by adding up the area for each individual section. They can find the total area and area of old-growth forest on private lands by subtracting the totals for each jurisdictional type from the map totals. Finally, they can compute the percent area of old-growth forest in each jurisdictional type, and compare each type to see how management has affected preservation.

Finally, the last remote sensing activity deals with "Forest Fragmentation," the process of cutting a large forest into a number of smaller pieces. Again, using NIH Image software and TIFF versions of satellite images from three different areas, the students can try to compare clear-cut sizes and/or compare forest fragmentation patterns.

Preparation Checklist--have you thought of everything?

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Grade Level: 9-12

Providing for Reflection
Despite a limited level of commitment while working on a module, students can still experience significant learning if they enter into the reflection process. Ideally, reflection occurs at various points during the module; however, reflection done only at the close of a module can be also be a powerful learning experience.


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Last updated April 28, 2005

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