Section 2.1: Investigating Impacts on the Sampling Area


Students will:

  • Engage in various research methodologies (i.e. community-based, narrative inquiry, publication research) to gather knowledge about the history of their community.

Key Terms


See content or Module Glossary for definitions

What Has Impacted the Sampling Area?

There can be many events that impact a sampling area. Within the context of TREE, these events/impacts could be: a drought, a fire, a flood, an insect outbreak, a destructive storm, the development of a mine, an oil spill, even the use of road salt on a highway near the forest, and many more. When these events occur, the tree responds and that response is “recorded” in the ring of growth for that year. When we analyze the amount of growth and the chemistry of each ring (see Module 6 for more explanation), we decipher the story of that tree. Comparing growth data from the MAD lab, chemistry data from the CLS, and the timeline data from the students allows us as a team, to understand the effects of the environment on that tree. For example, if we find that there is a sudden spike in iron during one year, this finding informs the researcher that a significant event occurred and further exploration into the cause of the change is needed. This is where the timeline comes into play.

Students will work together to research and record the events that may have caused changes in the environment. These events are categorized in five broad areas: Natural/Environmental impacts, Industrial impacts, Human impacts, Temperature, and Precipitation (more information found in the Creating a Timeline Lesson). See the tables below for the first two categories. Students will gather information on these sections and construct a linear timeline of events, which is submitted with the TREE kit with their samples (print/electronic versions are both accepted but electronic is preferred). The timeline is a critical component of TREE as it will enable the laboratories to align the events with the data analysis.

Figure 1 shows a student collecting a tree core from a trembling aspen located in the Crooked Bush of Saskatchewan, Canada.
Figure 1 shows a student collecting a tree core from a trembling aspen located in the Crooked Bush of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Resources to Consult:

  • Online databases such as Canada’s historical climate database, or, or (TIP: figuring out which data station your sampling area is closest to will help with government websites)

  • Scientific articles, especially peer-reviewed ones

  • Local libraries, town/city council and/or records, local newspapers/newsletters, community history books

  • Family members, community members, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, seniors

Connect with Indigenous Groups

Indigenous groups in your area may have knowledge that can support your learning here. Check out our Indigenous Engagement Starting Points resource to learn how to connect:

Impacts Examples

Natural/Environmental Impacts Example
Industrial Impacts Example
TREE Video on filling out the form: This form contains some of the local information pertinent to the timeline.