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     A revitalized Forest Inventory Growth (FIG) website will help connect Maine students to the forests that now occupy 90% of the state’s land area.

      The initiative, sponsored by Maine Project Learning Tree, Maine Tree Foundation and Maine Audubon, will encourage teachers and students to use citizen science to develop skills, contribute to field research, study the environment, and explore the benefits of forests to both people and wildlife.

     The website combines Project Learning Tree’s curriculum with the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory Analysis program to allow students opportunities to explore and study the forest. 

     FIG “plots” were developed by forestry professionals, University of Maine professors, and high school science teachers as a means to collect information year after year about the health of forests, and to determine how forests are changing over time. From long-term datasets,foresters model and predict future change to inform decisions about how to manage forests for ecological health and economic productivity.

     While some schools, including Washington Academy and Mt. Ararat High School, in Topsham have been collecting data for over ten years, others are just getting started. FIG’s long-term dataset continues to improve our understanding of how forest ecosystems work and how they change or stay the same over time.

     The project complements Project Learning Tree’s goal of enhancing students’ understanding of the Maine forest in all its dimensions.

     To learn more about Maine FIG or how to sign up, contact Pat Maloney at 626-7990 or meprojectlearningtree@gmail.com

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