Forestry Ecology Research Network Plots & Maine Project Learning Tree

Welcome to the Maine Forest Ecology Research Network (FERN) project! Formerly known as FIG, this field-based, exploratory program connects students to Maine forests which span nearly 90% of our state.

We combine the best of Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) middle and high school curriculum with the US Forest Service’s forest analysis program to provide our students with opportunities to explore and study the forest.

Gorham Middle School students get creative in the forests with FIG

In Person and Online

We team schools with professional foresters for in-class learning and field-based data collection. Our PLT trainings are always face-to-face with personalized follow-up support.

Technology keeps us connected and lets us share data and ideas across a network of the best educators, students, and natural resource professionals in the state.

Long Term Ecological Research:

How are Maine’s forests changing over time?

FIG plots were developed by forestry professionals, University of Maine professors, and high school science teachers as a means to collect information year after year about the health of forests and to determine how forests are changing over time. From long-term datasets, foresters model and predict future change to make informed decisions about how to manage forests for ecological health and economic productivity.

While some teachers and students have been collecting data for over 10 years with their forester partners, others are getting started right now! FERN’s long-term dataset continues to improve our understanding of how forest ecosystems work and how they change or stay the same over time.

A Plot in Every Town

We invite schools, land trusts, and environmental organizations to join us in our mission to educate young people about forests and to build a long term dataset for forestry professionals.

Imagine connecting learning in your classroom to the outside world and to a professional forester. Imagine contributing data for one year, ten years, or longer, and how that service will inform our collective understanding of how Maine’s forests are changing over time.