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Made in the Shade: The Current Situation and Possible Future of U.S. Urban Forests

This article is from Issue Facts to the Future - Vol. 5 No. 1.

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The scientists in this study were asked to determine the current status of urban forests in the United States. 

Welcome to the Facts to the Future edition

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)
  • Importance of Forest to People (Students)
  • The Value of Forests and Grasslands (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Alaska
  • Intermountain
  • Northern
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Pacific Southwest
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Southern
  • Southwestern

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
One of the goals of science is to be able to predict what might happen in the future. No one really knows for sure what will happen in the future, even with scientific information. With accurate scientific information, however, scientists can make a fairly good guess. One of the ways that scientists predict what will happen in the future is to examine what has happened over time. Let's say, for example, that a scientist has observed that the number of frogs living in an area between 1981 and 2003 went down every year. If you were the scientist, would you predict that the number of frogs will go down over the next 5 years or stay the same? You can see that if scientists are going to make useful predictions concerning the future, they need to know what has happened in the past over a period of time.
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Characteristics of Scientists
  • The Scientific Process

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
The scientists in this study examined a special kind of forest. This kind of forest is probably familiar to you, but you never guessed that it is called a forest! This special forest is called an urban forest, and it is defined as the trees and other plants that grow where people live, work, and play. An urban forest includes trees that grow along the street, in your schoolyard, in parks, and anywhere else in the community (figure 1). An urban forest, like a rural forest, provides homes for animals, such as birds, small mammals, and insects. They make places more beautiful, reduce noise, and provide shade. They also reduce flooding by slowing or stopping some rain from hitting the ground and by absorbing rainwater. Urban forests keep the air cleaner by absorbing carbon dioxide. They also provide places for people to play and learn about the natural environment. People don't always think of the trees and other plants near their homes as natural resources, but they are!
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Adaptation
  • Value of natural environments

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Nature of science (G)
  • Personal health (F)
  • Populations, resources and environments (F)
  • Risks and benefits (F)
  • Science and technology in society (F)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)
  • Structure and function in living systems (C)
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry (A)

Science Benchmarks covered in this article:
  • Habits of Mind: Communication Skils
  • Habits of Mind: Computation and Estimation
  • Habits of Mind: Critical-Response Skills
  • Human Society: Social Change
  • Human Society: Social Trade-Offs
  • The Living Environment: Flow of Matter and Energy
  • The Living Environment: Interdependence of Life
  • The Nature of Science: Scientific Inquiry
  • The Nature of Science: The Scientific Enterprise
  • The Physical Setting: The Earth