The purpose of this lesson is to give students baseline information on the forest situation in S.C. today. This is the forest their generation will inherit.
Over the last 500 years, about one-third of South Carolina's forests have disappeared. Despite intensive reforestation efforts, we are still losing forestland. Most of the recent losses are due to urban sprawl.
Get the children's reaction to this fact: good or bad? Then ask the children to discuss what happened to this forest (agriculture, roads, cities, lakes, home sites, shopping centers, landfills, etc.). Once again, discuss good or bad. Lead the students to understand that increasing population and more sophisticated lifestyles take a toll on the resource base.
Talk about what can be done to maintain a comfortable lifestyle while conserving the forest.
At present, S.C. has about 12.3 million acres of forest land,. Sixty-five percent of the state is forested.
Ask the children who they think owns most of the forest land. They will probably mention government or forest industry as the primary owners.
Of the forest land, private individuals (regular citizens) own 74%; forest industry owns 16%; and government (federal and state) owns 10%.
You may wish to have the children to make pie charts of the total land base and ownership patterns to display in the classroom. This information will be important to understanding questions posed in later lessons.
Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) is the most common tree species in the state. It grows naturally in every county and is the species most frequently planted when reforestation is done. There are a number of other pine species which occur naturally in S.C.; pines of one type or another account for over 6 million acres of our total forest. Various hardwood species (broad-leafed trees) make up the rest.
You may wish to show the class some examples of various species and discuss their uses briefly. This will be covered more completely in the 7th grade unit.
Trees are the most valuable cash crop in the state; the annual harvest is worth about $566 million. Forestry, including logging and manufacturing, provides jobs for 26, 000 people. Forestry is the third largest manufacturing industry in the state, behind textiles and chemicals.
You may wish to have the children list forest products that are produced in their county.
Wood products are grown, harvested and manufactured in all 46 South Carolina counties.
Put forestry on a personal basis by asking the children if any of their family members work in some phase of forestry. This should include loggers, mill workers (including clerical), foresters, woods workers, truck drivers, etc. Then ask if anyone has family members working in equipment sales and repair, or at service stations selling fuel to loggers, or as carpenters working with wood, etc. By using various extensions, you will probably be able to show a significant number of families depending at least partially on the industry.