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The scientific focus of Teach Earth is forests, and specifically the impact of climate change on forest habitats.
Billions of people around the world rely on trees and forests for food, shelter, fuel, medicines, clean air, and fresh water. Forests cover about a third of the land area of the Earth and harbor more species than any other terrestrial habitat. But all this is under threat from deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change.
Surprisingly little is known about how forests are affected by changing temperatures and rising levels of carbon in the atmosphere, and about how changes in their management could play an important role in helping to reduce the impact of climate change.
Earthwatch’s U.K. Regional Climate Centre is situated in the beautiful and ancient Wytham Woods near Oxford. Here, in partnership with Oxford University, we are using a series of forest plots to measure and track the growth of trees in order to understand the impact of climate change on forest ecosystems and biodiversity; how species are dying, thriving, or adapting; and the role of forests in the global carbon cycle.
The U.K. Regional Climate Centre is part of a network of five forest research plots around the world, in both temperate and tropical zones, all using the same research methodology and contributing to the largest known research study of its kind. Teachers who participate in our program will be adding to a global data set that will help inform policy and forest management practice worldwide. The Earthwatch team also have a number of ideas and resources that can help Teach Earth participants to use the research skills they learn to set up curriculum relevant science projects in their school.