BRONZE

Future Forest Management Procedure

My project would be to have two different forestry managements. (these forests will be representing protected forest areas) One will have a clean healthy forest and the other will be full of dead trees, wood and branches.
Valentina Heinz
Grade 6

Hypothesis

If I make 2 types of forests, one healthy and clean, while the other is dry and full with dry wood, then when I light both on fire, the dry forest will take in action quicker and take less time to spread the flames. This is because dry wood can burn easier, and more dry wood would mean more fuel. (The fuel is the dry wood).

Research

  1. When dry wood catches on fire, it can catch on many things to produce that type of heat. For example, a match, focused light, friction, lightning or something that has already been burning. When it reaches about 300 degrees fahrenheit (150 degrees celsius), that heat decomposes some of the cellulose material that makes up the wood. This decomposed material can be released as volatile gases. Also referred to smoke. This process will be separated in two parts when the actual wood is burning.

. First part/step

First part/step

When the wood burns, it releases gases, and when the volatile gases burn to about 500 degrees fahrenheit, it first ends up to be charred wood and the second effect would be the following. When the volatile gases are heated enough it will spread gases during the fire, specifically 10ch2o, which in words it translates to 10 carbon and water particles.

. Second part/step

Second part/step

When the particles of the carbon and water reach the air and mix in with the oxygen, the reaction or the effect would be. Having water more likely as vapor, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon, and nitrogen all ending up in the air. This process is much slower for the reaction, compared to the first part or step.

 2. Deforestation mainly is caused and started by clear cutting agriculture and sustainable forest management, mining, infrastructure projects and increased fire incidents and intensity.

All these activities cause dryness in the forest and sustains less and less opportunities for the trees to absorb the water and nutrients from the ground, for them to stay healthy, moist, and most importantly alive. 

3. What makes dry wood catch on fire is any type of heat that comes close to the dry wood. For example, a match, focus light, friction, lightning, or something that has already been burning. 

4. When it comes to healthy wood, catching on fire, it’s a lot easier in controlling and getting there on time  to take the fire down. I believe this is because since the healthy wood would contain more water inside of it, my thoughts would be the following: if water makes fire slower to spread, then if there is more water in healthy wood than dry wood, the healthy wood must react slower in the process of a forest fire. 

5. Well, usually healthy forests would contain a great amount of water in each trunk of a tree. So when something heats up a tree, the water will slow down the heating process, making a fire more difficult to start and spread in different places.

6. A healthy environment filled with trees can transform into a dry forest just by the most common way, deforestation. (You can go to the answer #2 to figure out how deforestation starts).

7. Fire can spread by transferring heat energy to one tree to another,in 3 different ways: radiation, convection and conduction.

8. Radiation: radiation is heat waves and when a tree gets close to those heat waves, it will burn up and create a fire. When the radiation gets closer to the object, that object will get warmer and that's how heat spreads. Once the wood or fuel heats up at a high rated temperature, it will burn up and combust.

Convection: Convection means that when there is a fire, the hot air moves up the trees till the top and can make fire spread as it heats up the branches.

Conduction: Conduction is not such as an important role in the moment of a forest fire spreading. This is because conduction only transfers heat, and wood is not a good heat conductor, compared to metal. 

 

9. One thing a forest fire would need to contain in its trees to start a fire quicker would be dry wood, which means less water inside the trunk. More dead or broken branches would also be an option to a tree starting a fire quicker, as well as a weak bark, wilting, cavities, cracks, hoes, leaf free branches, holes in leaves, oozing sap and disease evidence.

10. You can tell if a tree is healthy by knowing that the tree has a center, stable leader (the trunk), evidence of new growth (the tree should be growing a bit every year), full branches (not broken), strong bark (no loss or peeling of the bark), and healthy leaves (should be in the proper shape, size, and color depending on the season).

11. Well as #9, it again needs dead broken branches, but as well dry leaves that can catch on fire easily .It also needs peeling dry part of a bark for more extra things to catch on the flames that would take in a higher capacity of spreading the fire.

12. The very first thing a tree or trees will need to keep a fire from spreading faster would be good hydration. Every tree needs 60% of water to be in great shape. So when a fire comes in place (since water is the enemy and killer of flames), it will be harder or slower for the flames to burn up the wood and trees, if they are both healthy.

 

Variables

. Independent variable:

What I change in my project would be making 2 types of forests. One where it's super healthy and the other where I place down many dead branches, wood, and leaves to make it look like a protected non cutting forest with dead trees all over.

. Dependant variable:

In my experiment, the thing that I am measuring/observing is the time on how fast the fire spreads on both forests, but also how contagious each forest would be.

. Controlled variable:

The thing I am keeping the same is like how much water I give to each plant, using the same soil and container, the amount of soil I put in, the same plants on each side, and the same ignition source to start light both forests at the same time.

 

Procedure

  1. Go to the Greengate Garden Centres store
  2. Get the soil company name “All Purpose Potting Soil”
  3. Get six types of plants that look like trees and 2 chunks of moss
  4. Next up you need to but two long plastic containers that can hold about 4 plants inside
  5. Take your garden gloves and a plastic cup to scoop out the “All Purpose Potting Soil” around half way in each container
  6. Then place the three trees on one of the planters and the three trees in the other and one moss plant in each planter
  7. Make sure to cover soil around the sides of each plant to secure it in the soil
  8. On one of the forests, take 20 dead dry branches as an example of deadwood about 5 inches or less and spread them around one of your planters and 5 dead and dry leaves spread out around the forest too
  9. Take a spray bottle and spray about 6-7 squirts around and on each  plant every second day for about a month to each planter
  10. Place your two types of forest outside on some flat surface (ex: backyard, field, etc)
  11. Place all people holding the cameras in the correct position to record and take photos of the process.
  12. Press play on your video and start taking photos even before the experiment has started.
  13.  Have your lighters ready in your hands to light a wood piece on fire. 
  14. Light your wood piece on fire
  15. Start your timer to measure how quickly each fire spreads to the entire forest
  16. Step back
  17. Watch and observe
  18. And if you want to repeat the experiment again, go back to step one and buy all products needed again to repeat the process

Observations

Smell: I could smell the smoke reaching into my nose making it a bit harder for me to breathe.

Taste: I could taste the smoke float rapidly into my mouth as I opened my mouth.

Feel: I could feel the heat extend onto my arms and face feeling like when I open the oven and its 350 degrees fahrenheit.

See: I could see in the drier forest that the fire would crackle more intensely and the fire would rise up high in just moments of seconds. I could also see that in the first forest, the healthy one, the forest did not have enough fuel to even have a fire for a minute. It was roughly keeping its high temperature and fire consistency. When I started lighting the dry forest, I lit it in three places: one in the far right, one right in the middle, and one on the far left. When all of them finally caught on fire I could see that they would all spread faster and faster towards the back of the forest, until the fire stopped appearing. The fire burned more than half of the area. There was only a little remaining left, while the other forest didnt even spread a whole 2 sticks. At the end of the experiment with the dry forest, I saw that half of the moss was fully black and burned from the fire. The messy forest was hotter, spread faster, spread for a longer time, and spread more of the area, than the clean environment.

Hear: I could hear the dry forest fire crackling pretty loud, and the “poof” sound of when the fire rose up to its maximum capacity with all its strength.

 

Types of Forests

Time, area burnt and the spread of the fire 

Observations

Healthy and clean environment

30 seconds for the time of how many seconds the fire had spread for and since we needed a bit of dry wood (fuel) to start the fire,  when we lit it on fire, the fire barely spread and burnt two short branches.

The fire was very mild, it did not keep its shape and heat, the flames dissolved really quickly and since there wasn't much fire, there wasn't much smoke either.

Dirty, messy, and lots of dry dead wood, branches and leaves type of environment

2 minutes and 54 seconds for the time of the fire spreading and ¾ of the area was traveled and burnt by the fire.

In seconds the flames rose to their highest capacity and created a lot of thick smoke. The fire spread fast but continued to stay alive for a decent long time, specifically 2 minutes and 54 seconds. When the fire was spreading it went upwards and sideways to burn the left side of the moss and burned all the branches, wood, and leaves up north.

 

 

Analysis

  1. Dry Forest: The fire started under 3 branches and spread to about 3 quarters of the area. It also started spreading at o seconds and proceeded its way up till 2 minutes and 54 seconds until it died down. There was also a healthy, good looking shape moss, and after the experiment on the left side, half of it was totally black and burned. The fire and heat was very low at first, but gradually took its temperature super high and that's what made the fire so much stronger. This is an example of RADIANT HEAT.

Healthy Forest: when I lit up my fire and duck it under the three branches, since there wasn't enough fuel to make the fire spread it went from having a fire there , to spreading up to two branches. (not that much compared to the dry, messy environment)

Bar Graph

 

 

Conclusion

  • My findings from the experiment were as follows: The healthy forest was stronger than the dry environment against the heat and fire and did not have as much fuel for the fire to expand and enable the flames to rise up. The dryer forest was more contagious like a virus, spreading so much further across the land than the clean healthy environment. Specifically ¾ of the area of the dry forest compared to two short lightly burned sticks in the healthy forest fires in each environment were timed and resulted in significant differences in the time the fires were active. The fire in the dry forest lasted 174 seconds. But the clean, moist environment resulted in a fire lasting only 30 seconds, roughly half the time. The differences in the intensity of the fire in each environment was also surprising. For example, the unmanaged forest fire provided a lot of radiant heat, compared to the managed forest.
  • Answering my Big Question would be the following:

If a forest is managed properly by reducing the dead and dry wood in the environment, when a fire does occur, the result is less spread of the fire, a shorter time when the fire is active, and a less intense fire. If we do not manage the forest properly and never take the trees that are dead laying on the ground or diseased, we will end up with the exact opposite reaction when a fire occurs. For example, there might be double or even more time with the fire still burning plants than a healthy environment.

  • My hypothesis was correct because the lack of water in dry wood, allows the wood (fuel) to burn easier compared to healthy living wood, because healthy trees have a higher percentage of water. That means, in a dry forest, the fire will burn faster and spread further and radiate more heat.

Application

  • This will impact the real world application because if people that manage the forests adapt to my idea, it could possibly help our trees and safety from fires. This is reasonable, because when we start cutting down the diseased trees or taking away the dead trees laying on the ground, like my example in my experiment with the healthy forest, #1 it will look cleaner, #2 when a fire comes it will have no fuel or just a bit, and will be able to sustain the amount of heat and control the spread of the fire. This is better for our safety because if we take the California fires for example, it destroyed a lot of houses and could have hurt or killed many people. If we do not want this to happen again or repetitively, we need to try something new, make a change, for fires to become more controlled and easy to handle. *One last thing: When a fire is drier, (like my dry forest experiment), It will spread much faster which is not a good signal because when the helicopters and planes want to drop gallons of water into the burning National Park, it will already be too te to stop the fire immediately since the flames already gained up its  heat and strength from a lot of the dead wood (fuel). This is an example of what we do not want to happen, which means we can't just keep not cutting down the dead and diseased trees in National Parks to protect them. Even worse, you're making the process of when a fire comes harder to handle. If we have clean, healthy National Parks, it will give us more time to bring more gallons of water to just stop spreading even the tiniest fires before they become more powerful.  

Sources Of Error

One error that could have made my experiment go wrong is the amount and spead of the wind. Because, if the wind blew the fire away from the fuel, the flames would have never gotten a chance to burn and my experiment would have not worked. So when it is windy, make sure to do this experiment in a garage, or outside a different time with no extreme or high wind blows. 

Acknowledgement

Thank you to my mom for helping me record the video and my dad for taking pictures during the experiment. I also acknowledge my sister for timing the amount of time for when the fire was active and spreading. This helped me a lot to get every detail and evidence as possible from my familys work, and I appreciate them participating in my experiment.