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Forest Health

Lesson Plan


Part I: Brainstorm and Cluster (as a class – allow 10 min.)

  • Review: the forest health glossary prior to the lesson or as you go along.
  • Mention: just as humans get sick so do forests.
  • Brainstorm: living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) factors that affect the health of a forest. Record their answers on the chalkboard or overhead.
  • Discuss: some signs that a tree is unhealthy. (Possible answers: change in leaf/needle colour, broken branches, mushrooms around the base of the tree, sap running down the trunk, fungus growths on the branches/trunk, etc)

Part II: Lesson (as a class – allow 40+ min.)

  • Have the students fill in Worksheet #1 (Forest Health) as you go through each section.
  • For more details on each living factor refer to the Teacher Background (TB) section that is noted.

    1. Non-Living (Abiotic) Factors

    • Discuss: how non-living (abiotic) factors affect the health of a forest.
      • Prolonged periods of hot and dry weather conditions – lack of water causes stress to the tree decreasing its ability to defend itself from disease and insect attack. Extreme drought conditions can cause trees to die.
      • Windstorms – High velocities of wind can uproot trees, causing them to die. Wind can also break branches allowing diseases to enter into the tree more readily.
      • Fire – Forest fires often kill many trees, however they allow new healthier forests to regenerate. Fire can destroy insects and disease, therefore increasing the overall health of the forest.

    2. Living (Biotic) Factors

    a) Tree Diseases

    • Mention: living (biotic) factors that affect the health of the forest are either a disease or an insect and they attack different parts of the tree.
    • Show overhead: #1 Tree Disease Chart - discuss one column at a time.
    • Show overheads: #2 Foliar Disease (TB1), #3 Wood Decay (TB2), #4 Mistletoe (TB3), #5 Root Disease (TB4).

    b) General Insect Biology

    • Explain: more living factors that affect the health of a forest are insects.
    • Show overhead: #6 Insect Biology - review the general biology and life cycle of the insect. Distinguish between the 2 life cycles: complete and incomplete metamorphosis and mention that the insects that you are going to talk about undergo complete metamorphosis.

    c) Defoliating Insects

    • Discuss: What type of insect would affect the foliage of a tree? Mention that some insects are called defoliators (they defoliate/eat the needles and leaves of trees).
    • Discuss: How do you think defoliating insects affect the health of the tree? Remind the students that the foliage is where photosynthesis occurs and without foliage the tree cannot make sugars to feed the tree. This can stress the tree and make it susceptible to attacks from other pests.
    • Show overhead: #7 Defoliating Insects: (TB5)

    d) Gall Adelgids [a-del-jid] (Aphid-like Insects)

    • Mention: there are other insects that affect the foliage of the tree. They are called gall adelgids (aphid-like insects).
    • Show overhead: #8 Gall Adelgids (TB6)

    e) Bark Beetles

    • Discuss: What type of insect would attack the inner bark of the tree? Mention how bark beetles are some of the most damaging forest pests.
    • Discuss: the general biology of bark beetles. (TB#7)
    • Show overhead: #9 Bark Beetle Chart

    f) Weevils (snout beetles)

    • Mention: there are other beetles that affect the health of trees.
    • Show overhead: #10 Weevils: (TB8)

    g) Wood Borers

    • Show overhead: #11 Wood Borers: (TB9)

Closure (allow 10+ min.)

  • Mountain Pine Beetle DVD (from Market Outreach – BC’s Mountain Pine Beetle Intermediate Resource Package).
  • Journal Entry - have students write 3 new interesting things they learned from the lesson.


  • Worksheet #2 (Create your own Forest Pest) – 1 per student or get students to do the assignment on poster paper. (Insect biology overhead should be displayed)
  • Guest Speaker from MOF
  • Mountain Pine Beetle Lesson (from Market Outreach – BC’s Mountain Pine Beetle Intermediate Resource Package)
  • General Forest Health Lesson (from www.learnforestry.com)
  • Force of Fire Binder

Back to Lesson 5 TOC

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