Defending trees in court

This activity encourages students to judge and weigh actions that people take that harm trees, and determine whether they are justified.

The objectives of the activity:
  1. Encouraging independent learning about the Land of the Bible
  2. Learning about different varieties of trees and their characteristics
  3. Understanding and appreciating the importance of variety in nature
Students hold a trial to judge whether acts conducted against trees are justified. They must research their topics and conduct a discussion based upon courtroom procedure. Students present the offense and defense, gather information, hear the evidence, and reach a verdict.

The identity of the plaintiffs will be determined according to the type of trial. The defendants have a right to be represented by a defense attorney. Expert witnesses can also be invited. Students hear the evidence, judge, and reach a verdict.

The following is a list of complaints about the ways in which mankind harms trees.
  1. A resident complained that his neighbor's tree was blocking the sunlight. He took a saw and cut away more than half of the tree.
  2. A contractor who is putting up new buildings is cutting down trees, claiming that they are "not fashionable." He promises to plant expensive trees in their place.
  3. The municipality is about to cut down a grove of trees in the center of the city to make room for a new housing project.
  4. The plans for a new intercity highway are posing a threat to forested areas that are growing more and scarce. There is also an alternative plan for the highway.
  5. You have decided to join the international fight to preserve the rainforests. Present your case to an international court to complain against companies, industries, and countries that are chopping down the rain forests.

Choose the manner in which the trial will be held:
  • The class chooses one of the complaints that is most relevant to them and deals with it in detail.
  • The class is divided into groups and each group deals with a different complaint.


Each group of students selects representatives to be the prosecution, defense, and jury, and students prepare for the trial. Each group prepares their evidence and expert witnesses are assigned. If students prepare material thoroughly, the discussion will be more informative.

Designate how much time each side has to present their evidence. It is important that the trial be conducted in a respectful and dignified manner and to treat the subject seriously.

After each side presents its evidence the judges review the material and decide upon a verdict.

Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archives
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archives