Is the Global Boreal Forest a Priority Place?


Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students investigate features of the global boreal forest and the criteria required to be considered as a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Priority Place. Students will decide if the global boreal forest region should be protected as a Priority Place. Students will present their findings in a position paper, poster or presentation.

Grade Level

Grade 9 and Grade 10

Time Required

Teachers should be able to conduct the lesson in one or two classes.

Curriculum Connection (Province/Territory and course)

Yukon (British Columbia curriculum), Social Studies 9 and Social Studies 10

Additional Resources, Materials and Equipment Required

·         Priority Places Activity (attached)

·         Boreal Forest Research Activity (attached)

·         Access to computers and the internet


Canadian Atlas Online Future of Forestry theme


The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund – Canada

Parks Canada website

Canadian Encyclopedia

·         Assignment Rubric (attached)

Main Objective

Students will research the features of the global boreal forest, and consider whether or not to include this region in the World Wildlife Fund’s Priority Places.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

·         evaluate attitudes and practices in resource development and their impact on contemporary resource management;

·         plan and conduct using secondary print and non-print sources, including electronic sources;

·         plan, revise, and deliver formal presentations that integrate a variety of media.


The Lesson


Teacher Activity

Student Activity



Begin by having students define the following terms:

·   Diversity

·   Conservation

·   Extinction

·   Preservation

·   Biodiversity

·   Impact

·   WWF (World Wildlife Fund)

Often students view these terms through the lens of species protection; encourage students to consider these terms in response to the environment.

Students will define words individually, in pairs, or as a class.



Students should consider how their definitions change when considering these words in relation to places instead of species.

Lesson Development


Introduce the idea of a Priority Place.

Here is the WWF description of a Priority Place:

“We can conserve most of life on Earth by protecting the most exceptional ecosystems and habitats. Places that are particularly rich in biodiversity. Places with unique animals and plants. Places like no other.”

2020 Priority Places Goal:
By 2020, biodiversity is protected and well managed in the world’s most outstanding natural places.

(Source: WWF)

Ask students if they can correctly locate and identify the 19 WWF priority places. Go to the World Wildlife Fund’s website to introduce the 19 Priority Places.

Distribute the Priority Places Activity and discuss it with students. Ask students to complete the organizer and questions.

Activate prior knowledge by trying to name the 19 places before they are revealed.

Complete the Priority Places Activity.


Introduce the global boreal forest as a new region to be investigated and present the question: “Should the global boreal forest become the 20th Priority Place to be protected?”

Distribute the Boreal Forest Research Activity. Review the instructions. Depending on access to the internet, ask students to conduct research online or with printed material provided by the teacher. Use the Canadian Atlas Online Future of Forestry theme, The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, Parks Canada or Canadian Encyclopedia websites as the main sources for student research.

Ask students to record their research findings on the Boreal Forest Research Activity. Indicate the ways that the global boreal forest meets the requirements to be designated as a Priority Place and the ways that it does not.

Use research findings to create a research paper, poster or presentation in support of or against the global boreal forest becoming a Priority Place.

Research the boreal forest and record findings on the Boreal Forest Research Activity.




Decide if the boreal forest should become the 20th WWF Priority Place.

Choose between a poster, presentation or research paper to present research findings.


Have students present their posters and presentations. In the case of research papers, ask students to provide a short, 150-word abstract of their position in small groups or before the class.

Present the poster or presentation to the class. In the case of a research paper, present a short 150-word abstract to peers before submitting it for assessment.

Lesson Extension

Encourage students to present their findings and positions in a letter to their MP asking them to champion the protection of the boreal forest.


Students could send letters of support for the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) to MPs recommending that the federal government continue to support the CBFA as a fist step in global boreal forest management and biodiversity conservation.


Assessment of Student Learning

Assessment for Learning:

The following assessment tools allow for collaboration and conferencing with the teacher.

·         WWF Priority Places Information Sheet

·         Boreal Forest Research Activity Sheet

Assessment of Learning:

A final, summative assessment will be completed by the teacher.

·         Assignment Rubric (attached)


Further Reading

·         Canadian Geographic/FPAC Boreal Forest interactive map

·         Forest Products Association of Canada

·         FAO – United Nations – state of the world’s forests report 2011


·         Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems; Michael Begon, Colin R. Townsend and John L. Harper (2006)

·         Last Chance to See; Douglas Adams (1990)

·         The Lorax; Dr. Seuss (1971)

·         Hoot; Derek Hansen (2002)

·         Avatar; James Cameron (2010)

Link to Canadian National Standards for Geography

Essential Element #5: Environment and Society

·         Environmental Issues

Geographic Skill #1: Asking geographic questions

·         Plan and organize a geographic research project (e.g. specify a problem, pose a research question or hypothesis and identify data sources).

 Priority Places Activity

Visit the World Wildlife Fund at and to gather information to complete the organizer and questions below.

Question 1: Complete the organizer. Remember, this is a data gathering activity, so use point form and aim to be factual but brief.

Name of Region

The Place

The Species

The People

Threats to the Region / Reasons for Protections






































































































































Question 2: In your opinion what characteristics do these 19 regions have in common? Provide at least four criteria that these regions share.













Question 3: In your opinion, what criteria should be required for a region to be considered a Priority Place? Provide at least four criteria.

Global Boreal Forest Research Activity

Section A: Organizer

Visit the Canadian Atlas Online Future of Forestry theme, The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, Parks Canada, or Canadian Encyclopedia websites to complete the organizer below about the Canadian boreal forest.


The Global Boreal Forest

Extent of the global boreal forest. In how many countries? What country has the largest portion of the boreal forest?



Physical features of the region





Natural and economic resources of the region





Wildlife of the region






Human activity in the region





Threats to the region






Section B:

Compare your findings from the Organizer in Section A to your research from the Priority Places Activity and complete the table below.

WWF Criteria for Priority Places

Does the global boreal forest meet these criteria?


Your criteria for Priority Places (give at least 4 criteria)

Does the global boreal forest meet these criteria?






















































Section C:

Having considered a number of factors, list three reasons why the global boreal forest should be included as the 20th Protected Place, and three reasons why it shouldn’t.


Reasons For

Reasons Against



























Section D:

Considering all of the information you have gathered and analyzed, do you think the global boreal forest should become the 20th Protected Place?

Assignment Rubric










Content Knowledge


Student does not have command of information; student can not sufficiently answer questions about subject.

Student is uncomfortable with content but is able to demonstrate basic concepts.


Student is at ease with content, some insights but student does not elaborate.


Student demonstrates full command of knowledge, numerous insights and elaboration.




A conclusion from the evidence is attempted but insufficient.

Some conclusions are reached from the evidence.

Several detailed conclusions are reached from the evidence.

Numerous detailed conclusions are reached from the evidence.


Information Gathering

Very little information is gathered, sources are not cited.

Information is gathered from limited sources and cited.

Information is gathered from multiple sources and cited.

Information is gathered from multiple sources and cited properly.



Sequence of information is illogical, and lacks structure.


Some difficulty following work due to

illogical sequencing and sentence structure.

Information presented in a reasonably logical format, with some illogical sequencing or sentence structure.

Well organized information in logical, interesting sequence.

Sophisticated sequencing and sentence structure.




Work has four or more spelling errors and/or grammatical errors.


Presentation has three misspellings and/or grammatical errors.


Presentation has no more than two misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Presentation has no misspellings or grammatical errors.




Ideas are not clear.
Presentation is not prepared.

Some ideas are unclear.
Basic format used.

Presentation demonstrates creativity and effort. Presentation adds to impact of information.

Ideas are presented clearly and creatively.
Presentation is well crafted with attention to detail and effort is evident.




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