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Kids Corner

What does a forester do?
Watch this video to learn about the different things foresters do to help our forests.

Gifford Pinchot: Walrus of the Forest
Gifford Pinchot served as the first Chief of the US Forest Service and first president of the Society of American Foresters.
An article for Children - Used by permission of Highlights for Children, Inc. Columbus, Ohio.
Copyright (c) 2005

Fun Forestry Facts

Why do leaves change color? Why is wood the best building product? Find out the answers to these questions and much more.

Why do leaves change color?
When leaves appear green, it is because they contain an abundance of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll masks other pigment colors. As summer turns to autumn, decreasing light levels cause chlorophyll production to slow. However, the decomposition rate of chlorophyll remains constant, so the green color will fade from the leaves. At the same time, anthocyanin production in leaves increases, in response to surging sugar concentrations. Leaves containing primarily anthocyanins will appear red. Leaves with good amounts of both anthocyanins and carotenoids will appear orange. Leaves with carotenoids but little or no anthocyanins will appear yellow. In the absence of these pigments, other plant chemicals also can affect leaf color. An example includes tannins, which are responsible for the brownish color of some oak leaves.

Why is wood the best building product?
The average single-family home (2,000 sq.ft) can contain 16,900 board feet of lumber and up to 10,000 square feet of panel products. Inch to inch, wood is 16 times more efficient as an insulator than concrete, 415 times as efficient as steel, and 2,000 times as efficient as aluminum.

What types of products are made from wood?
There are an estimated 5,000 different products made from trees. Apart from the well known products such as lumber, paper, and garden mulch, trees are responsible for other day to day items such as clothing, carpeting, and even toothpaste.

How many times can paper be recycled?
Paper can be recycled 4 to 5 times before the fibers lose their strength and wash out. New fibers added to the old can lengthen this recycling process.

How much of the world is forested?
The world's total forest area is almost 9.8 billion acres. The United States has the fourth largest amount of forested land in the world after Brazil, Russian Federation, and Canada.

How much carbon dioxide is used to grow one pound of wood?
To grow a pound of wood, a tree uses 1.47 pounds of carbon dioxide and gives off 1.07 pounds of oxygen. An acre of trees might grow 4,000 pounds of wood in a year, using 5,880 pounds of carbon dioxide and giving off 4,280 pounds of oxygen in the process.

How do forests give us clean air and water?
The forest also helps protect us from the effects of air and water pollution. Put simply, the surface and ground waters that flow out of the forest are less contaminated with man-made chemicals than the rain and snow that fall on the forest.

What is the Tallest Tree?
The acknowledged tallest tree species currently known to man is considered to be the Californian redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). The tallest known redwood is located in the Hombodlt Redwood State Park in California, and is measured to be 378.1 feet tall.

What is the Largest Tree?
There are various ways to determine the "largest" of anything. This gets more complicated with living organisms where different forms of reproduction, such as cloning, can come into play. For the record, the largest single stemmed tree, by volume, is the General Sherman Giant Sequoia located in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. It is estimated to have 52,500 cubic feet of material, with an annual wood growth of an amount equal to a 60 foot tree of average proportion. At its base its measures 36.5 feet in diameter(109 feet in circumference), and its largest branch is almost 7 feet thick. On the other side of the debate is a Quaking Aspen (Populous tremuloides) grove located in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. Aspens will often reproduce through a form of cloning known as vegetative reproduction, where an original (ortet) will send out lateral roots, which will in turn sprout clones of the tree (ramets). Because all the trees in the grove will be genetically the same and are interconnected via the root system, it can be argued that, although visually separate trees, the grove is one large organism. This grove has been named Pando and covers roughly 106 acres with its 47,000 stems, weighing in at an estimated 13 million lbs.

What is the Oldest Tree?
The oldest tree currently living is named "Methuselah" and is acknowledged to be 4,765 years old. In order to protect it from vandalism and trophy seekers, the US Forest Service has not disclosed its exact location, other than it resides in the White Mountains of the Inyo National Forest in southeastern California. The oldest living tree in record was located in what is now Great Basin National Park. Named "Prometheus," the specimen was accidentally cut down in 1964. It has since been aged at approximately 4,900 years.

Sources:
American Forest and Paper Association. Retrieved on the web at http://www.afandpa.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Educators_and_Students/ All_About_Trees/All_About_Trees.htm

California Forest Foundation. "Points of Interest". Spring 07, Volume 11, Number 1: p22.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methuselah_(tree).

National Park Service Sequoia and King's Canyon Webpage. Retrieved at http://www.nps.gov/seki/.

The Society of American Foresters. The Dictionary of Forestry. Bethesda: 1998.

Maine Forest Service, www.mainefoliage.com

The Society of American Foresters. The State of America's Forest.

Ask a Forester
Foresters and natural resource professionals throughout the country have agreed to answer your questions about US forests.