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Oooh! That's Growth! Measuring Trees in Cinnamon Bay Watershed

This article is from Issue Tropical - Vol. 3 No. 1.

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In 1956, the United States established a national park on one of the Virgin Islands. The United Nations named the national park a Biosphere Reserve in 1976. To help manage the park as a Biosphere Reserve, the National Park Service wanted to understand how fast the trees were growing. To do this, they invited the Forest Service to do a study of the trees in the Cinnamon Bay watershed, one of the areas within the Biosphere Reserve.

Welcome to the Tropical edition

Note to Educators

Education Standards Correlations


Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Earth Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Forest and Grassland Use (Educators)
  • Growing and Using Trees and Other Plants (Students)
  • Rivers, Lakes, Streams (Students)
  • Using Forests (Students)
  • Vegetation Management (Educators)
  • Water (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Southern

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
When studying the natural environment, scientists sometimes have to wait many years to discover new things. The scientist in this study wanted to know how the trees were changing in the Cinnamon Bay watershed, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands National Park (Figure 1). He was interested in knowing what kind of new trees were growing and what kind of trees were dying. He also wanted to know how fast the trees were growing. If people want to understand the natural environment, they have to know how to describe it. Usually, the best way to describe an environment is to observe it, and then to record your observations. When you know what an environment looked like one year, you can compare it with other years to tell how much it has changed.
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • The Scientific Process

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
The Virgin Islands National Park is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands (Figure 1). In 1976, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, u nes ko) named the national park a Biosphere (bi o sfer) Reserve (re zerv). (The United Nations is an international organization that works for world peace and security.) A Biosphere Reserve is a special label given to natural areas around the world that represent the world's natural diversity. A biosphere reserve should be managed so that it stays healthy into the future. This is called keeping the area sustainable. To manage a Biosphere Reserve for sustainability (suh stan uh bil uh te), managers have to consider conservation, research, education, and whether and how to build structures for human use. All of these things must be balanced so that the area stays healthy into the future.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Human impact on natural resources

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)

Science Benchmarks covered in this article:
  • Habits of Mind: Communication Skils
  • Habits of Mind: Critical-Response Skills
  • The Nature of Science: Scientific Inquiry
  • The Nature of Science: The Scientific Enterprise
  • The Physical Setting: Processes that Shape the Earth
  • The Physical Setting: The Earth