Value of a Tree

Is a tree more valuable standing (providing habitat, shade, and sequestering carbon) or cut down; (used for paper, lumber, and even jetfuel!)? This Value of a Tree lesson helps you consider all the uses of a tree from a life cycle assessment analysis.

  VOAT Program Overview and Goals

The Value of a Tree (VOAT) lesson is an environmental education lesson geared at sparking youth interest in modern forestry concepts. The lesson covers forestry topics related to carbon sequestration (storage), calculating biomass potential, and using biomass as a potential bio-fuel. Starting with the Carbon Cycle and working through calculations, youth are able to gather information they can use later to debate the merits of harvesting the tree for timber and fuel versus leaving it standing to sequester carbon and provide habitat. The addition of modern technology tools such as digital microscopes and Surface Pro Tablets allow for deeper exploration of a tree and its micro-ecosystem.


The VOAT lessons utilizes forestry tools that are easily accessible and readily available to the general public. The lessons takes advantage of an outdoor classroom and hands-on learning to encourage creativity, critical thinking, tool familiarity, and data analysis.  VOAT lessons and resources are a perfect addition to almost any environmental education curriculum.

The VOAT  Kits

The VOAT kits contain both modern and traditional forestry tools including:

  • Increment Borers
  • Clinometers (simple and professional) and Range Finder
  • Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) Tape
  • 100 ft (30 meter) Measuring Tape
  • Calculators
  • GPS Unit
  • Surface Pro Tablet and Digital Microscope

Study Topics

The VOAT lessons addresses many topics, including:

  • Global climate change
    • Greenhouse gases
    • Renewable energies and fuels
  • Carbon sequestration and storage
    • Carbon cycle
    • Carbon sinks
  • Biomass vs. biofuels
  • Energy
  • Logging

Lesson Plan and Worksheets

For the complete Value Of A Tree lesson plan, see the VOAT Lesson Plan
For a copy of the Student Reference Sheet, use the VOAT Student Reference Sheet
For a copy of the Student Worksheet, use the VOAT Student Worksheet

Forestry Tools: How-To Videos

Not sure how to use any of the tools in the VOAT kit? Check out our Tool How-to videos by clicking on the individual tools below, or here to see the entire playlist.







Other info

For more information on lesson plans, teaching resources, or other information relating to the Value of a Tree lesson, please contact Justin Hougham at

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For more information on biofuels, biomass, or to increase your energy literacy, please visit:
For specific information from the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) visit their information matrix.