CAE Forestry


California Envirothon Forestry Study Resources:

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources – Forest Stewardship Series:

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources – Woody Biomass Utilization:

National Association of Conservation Districts, USDA Forest Service & US Department of the Interior – Woody Biomass Overview Presentation:

California Environmental Protection Agency – Heat islands:

US Environmental Protection Agency – Heat islands:

USDA Forest Service – Anatomy of a tree:,%E2%80%9D%2C%20stimulate%20growth%20in%20cells

Urban Forest Management Toolkit:


Study Links by Learning Objective:

Forest Carbon Primer

Plant Biology:

Dicot or Monocot? How to Tell the Difference- flpmctn12686.pdf (

Photosynthesis chemical process- Photosynthesis: Part 2: Chemical Process | HHMI BioInteractive Video – YouTube

Plant Growth Processes: Transpiration, Photosynthesis, and Respiration-

Forest/Grassland Ecology:

Biotic and Abiotic Parts of a Forest – What is a Forest?

Misconceptions & Benefits of Fire:

Energy Flow in an Ecosystem-

Plant Communities:

Calflora: Calflora – Information on wild California plants

Plant Succession: When Plants Take Over with Sir David Attenborough | The Green Planet |BBC Earth – YouTube

Weeds-The Pioneers: David Attenborough will make you think about weeds in a different light 🌱 The Green Planet – BBC – YouTube

Determining a Plant Community Species List: What Grows Here? demonstration – YouTube

NRCS Habitat and Biodiversity: NRCS: Habitat – YouTube

Forestry Basic Inventory Calculations 

Forestry Fixed Ratio Plots

Forests and Society:

Coquille Tribe with NRCS – FOR WEBINAR

Forestry 101:

Forestry 101: What is Silviculture?

Indigenous Tribes restoring cultural burning:

Carbon Market for the Yurok Tribe:

Field Skills:

How to use a dichotomous key to identify plants:

Identifying walnut trees in CA: 

Measuring diameter of trees using a DBH Tape:

Note*** Video references measuring at 1.4 meters height. The conversion is 4.5 feet height, which is the standard measurement and typically called “Diameter at Breast Height” or “DBH”

How to Use an Increment Borer – useful for counting tree rings to calculate tree age & looking at past climatic conditions. Larger rings mean more water & resources and a better growing year.

Using a clinometer to measure tree height:

Bark Beetle Field Guide: Focus on red turpentine beetle, western pine beetle, mountain pine beetle, and pine engraver beetle (Pg 2, 3, 5, and 7)

Please visit California Envirothon’s YouTube Channel

CA Envirothon Forestry – Study Materials

Forestry Key Points

1F         Identify common trees without a key and identify specific or unusual species of trees or shrubs through the use of a key.

2F        Understand forest ecology concepts and factors affecting them, including the relationship between soil and forest types, tree communities, regeneration, competition, and succession.

3F        Understand the cause and effect relationship of factors affecting tree growth and forest development (climate, insects, microorganisms, wildlife, etc.).

4 F       Understand how wildlife habitat relates to forest communities, forest species, forest age and structure, snags and den trees, availability of food, and riparian zones.

5F        Understand how the following issues are affected by forest health and management: biological diversity, forest fragmentation, air quality, aesthetics, fire, global warming, and recreation.

6F        Understand basic forest management concepts and tools (Clinometer, Diameter Tape, Logger’s Tape, Prism, and Merritt Hypsometer) such as how various silvicultural practices are utilized, the use of tree measuring devices, and the best use of management practices.

7F        Apply silviculutral concepts and methods to develop general management recommendations and goals for a particular situation.

8F        Identify the complex factors that influence forest management decisions (e.g., economic, social, and ecological).

9F        Understand the value of trees in urban/suburban settings and the factors affecting their health and survival.

10F      Describe specific adaptations of wildlife to their environment and their role in the ecosystem.

Study Resources for the Forestry Test

Basics of Tree ID (1F)

What Tree Is That? – Tree Identification Field Guide from Arbor Day Foundation

Dendrology at Virginia Tech, Dept of Forestry.  Good maps, identification and quizzes for Canada and the US.

Tree Identification by sight – use Virginia Tech Dendrology website to know these species

    1. Ponderosa Pine:
    2. Sugar Pine:
    3. White Fir:
    1. Douglas-fir:
    2. Incense-cedar:
    3. Coastal Redwood:
    4. Coast Live Oak:

h. Whiteleaf Manzanita:

Why Tree Identification Is Easier Than Ever – From

SelecTree California

Urban tree key from Cal Poly Pomona

CalPhotos – Plants

Tree Physiology (2F)

  1. Tree morphology and physiology (10:55)
  2. Tree crown class

  1. Tree Biology (5:00)

  1. Trees and Snags

Forest Measurements (6F)

  1. Measuring tree height with a Clinometer – Clinometer Reading Method

Keep both eyes open when using a clinometer.  Use one eye to look through the lens at the scales while the other sights alongside the clinometer housing.  An optical illusion is created, and the horizontal sighting line will appear to project to the side of the clinometer housing.  Place this sighting line on your target and read the scale.

  1. Measuring Diameter at Breast Height

“DBH” (2:31)

Wood volume and measurements (6F)

Riparian Areas Environmental Uniqueness, Functions, and Values (4F)

Forests as Carbon Sinks (4F)

Smithsonian SERC video (10 min)

Fire (5F)

  1. “California Wildfires: The New Normal” (12:41)
  2. The Fire Triangle,the%20fire%20will%20be%20extinguished.
  1. Prescribed fire,of%20meeting%20the%20burn%20objectives.

Legal Description (6F)

  1. “USPLSS” (7:37)
  2. “Understanding the Public Land Survey System” (7:46)

Forest Management/Silviculture (7F,8F)

  1. Watch “Forest Stand Improvement” (1:48)
  2. “Sustainable Forestry: How does it work?” (3:21)
  5. Ecosystems of California:  Forestry – (23 min)

Forest Soils and Site Index (6F),tallest%20trees%20in%20the%20stand.

The living soil beneath our feet (project wet) – 3min

Additional Forestry resources/archived material

Forestry Challenge

News on CA forestry

Ecosystems of California:  Forestry – 23 min

Ecosystems of California:  Oak woodlands – 15 min Ecosystems of California: Oak Woodlands – YouTube

Starting your forest management plan: Introduction to Forest management – 8 min

Restoring our forests: Managing the Recovery – 6 min

Canada measurement volume tables (6F)

California Native Plant Society

California Natural Resource Conservation Service Homepage

USDA Forest Service

USGS Biological Resource Division, National Biological Information Infrastructure

Environmental Protect Agency Water Quality Programs

US Fish and Wildlife Service

California Biodiversity Council

California Department of Conservation Land Use Planning Information Network

California Department of Fish and Game

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Society of American Foresters

A complete glossary of forestry terms can be accessed at:

2013 Forestry Equipment Techniques (6F)

Insects and Diseases of Forest Trees

USDA Forest Service Western Forest Insects and Diseases

Urban Forestry

Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute at Cal Poly

A handout from the International Society of Arboriculture about insects and diseases of trees

Urban forestry  (9F)

Federal Laws Related to the USDA Forest Service

“Understanding Forest Ecology” Fire, Water, Beetles in Sierra Nevada Forests (6:14)

Students should be able to map, label and define the major forest regions of California.  (2F 3F 5F 7F 8F)

On-line Sample Tests

The North American Envirothon web site contains sample tests for each of the Envirothon topics and a list of issues.  Many state and provincial Envirothon Web sites also contain sample tests.

Suggested Core Activities/Test Material

Students should identify common trees and shrubs in their local area without a plant key and identify specific or unusual species of trees and shrubs using a key.  Using plant presses, students will collect samples, and create plant identification collections for future study. 1F

This is a good idea for a teacher to coordinate but not realistic for studying for the competition

Students should conduct tree ring research by using tree trunk slices to determine tree age, growing conditions, insect damage, and weather conditions. 3F

Students should understand how to use a clinometer, increment borer, diameter tape, and other forestry management tools. To practice those skills, they can attempt to measure trees in their local area.  Using a variety of volume tables, the students will be able to calculate the volume of lumber for each tree. 6F

Students should download the PDF file “Forest Health” from eco- links written by the Temperate Forest Foundation.  Team members can present their research on how the following issues are affected by forest health and management: biological diversity, forest fragmentation, air quality, aesthetics, fire, global warming, and recreation. 5F

Using the Penn State “virtual forest tour” on their computer, students will understand how forest practices and policy affect sustainability.  Students will compare a mixed eastern hardwood forest in Pennsylvania to a douglas fir forest in Oregon. 2F. 3F, 6F, 7F, 8F

Students shoiuld create a presentation display showing the value of trees in an urban setting, and the factors affecting their health and survival. 9F

Students should make a map of their local area forest or park, including wildlife inventories, tracks, habitat, food sources, and specific wildlife adaptations. 4F, 10F

Forestry Extended Studies

Students should recommend harvesting methods for even and uneven age stands.  They will list the benefits of shelterwood, seed tree, and clearcut methods. (2F, 6F,7F)

Students should explain how forest landowners can create the habitat requirements needed for wildlife species.  (4F, 10F)

Measuring Height with a Merritt Hypsometer

A Merritt Hypsometer is a simple tool that uses geometry to measure the number of 16 foot logs in standing trees. While not as accurate as special tools specifically designed for height measurement (clinometer), the Merritt Hypsometer is convenient to carry and use and accurate enough for many purposes.

  1. Pace or measure a distance of either 66 (for short trees) or 99 (for tall trees) feet from tree.
  2. Hold the stick 25 inches from your eye with the hypsometer side facing you and parallel to tree.
  3. Align the bottom of the stick (zero end) with bottom of the tree.
  4. WITHOUT MOVING YOUR HEAD, sight up the stick to the top of the tree.
  5. Read number of logs from scale where your line of sight and the top of the tree intersect.

NOTE: For short trees you go out a distance of 66 (one chain) feet from the tree being measured.  For taller trees you will need to go out 99 (1.5 chains) feet from the trees being measured.  Make sure you use the correct scale, as the hypsometer will have both scales side by side.

Measuring tree height with a Clinometer or Merrit Hypsometer: (6F)

To practice measuring tree height, go out 100 feet from the tree measuring with your loggers tape.  Using a clinometer, measure the angles to the top and bottom of the tree using the percent scale in the clinometer and add them together, if your eye is higher than the base of the tree to get the height of the tree.  If you are downhill from the tree and your eye is below the base of the tree, subtract the percentage reading to the base of the tree (the lower percentage) from the percentage reading to the top of the tree to get the height of the tree.

 Using the compass

To determine the direction your are facing point the Direction of Travel Arrow on the
compass in the direction you want to go, turn the compass housing or turntable so the floating compass needle is contained within the Orienting Arrow printed on the bottom of the compass housing making sure the pointed needle points to the North.  Then take your degree reading (or azimuth off the compass housing (0o to 360o) where the Direction of Travel Arrow intersects the compass housing.

Let’s use for example that you want to go northwest.  Find out where on the compass housing northwest is.  Then you turn the compass housing so that northwest on the housing comes exactly there where the large direction of travel-arrow meets the housing.

Hold the compass in your hand.  You will have to hold it quite flat, so that the compass needle can turn.  Turn yourself (your hand and the entire compass, just make sure the compass housing doesn’t turn independently) until the compass needle is aligned with the lines inside the compass housing.

Cruising Prism

Like an angle gauge, this optical device is used to tally trees in variable area plot sampling.  These prisms are also available in a range of basal area factors (BAF) to best fit the size of the trees you are sampling.  You select a BAF to give you 4 to 10 trees per sample plot but you must use the same BAF for the whole stand you are sampling.  The smaller the trees, the smaller the BAF to use.  Prisms are not used to tally dense sapling size regeneration as they do introduce a bias against smaller trees (few are selected to measure).

Variable plot sampling with a Cruising Prism

Use both a prism and an angle gauge to count the number of trees.  Record the BAF. Count three plots with each.  Average the three plots (record average to three decimal places) and multiply by the BAF to get the basal area per acre.  Viewing the tree bole at breast height (DBH = 4.5 feet above the ground) the tree is counted in the plot of the prism displaced bole touches the tree bole above or below the prism.  If the displaced image doesn’t touch the tree bole the tree is not counted in the plot.

Prisms:  It doesn’t matter how far you hold the prism from your eye.  However, as you rotate in a circle to sample the forest, the prism should remain over the same point.  Mark the center of the plot with a stake.

Prisms must be held with the thick edge perpendicular to the ground.  The prism will offset an image of the tree trunk. If this offset image intersects with the actual trunk viewed outside the prism, the tree is counted.

Trees where the offset image does not intersect the tree are ignored and borderline trees (offset image barely touches the tree) are counted as half a tree or you can count every other borderline tree.

Watch “Wedge Prism” (2:11)