Unit 4A Fragile environments

A must-watch Youtube!

A new topic!

Lesson 1: Introducing Fragile environments
Objectives: to answer the following questions
  • What is the unit all about?

  • What are biomes/ecosystems and fragile environments?

  • What are the problems they have to deal with?

  • How does soil erode?

Class notes:


about the Awa people

Lesson 2; Desertification

Objectives: to answer the following questions
  • What is desertification?

  • What are the consequences of desertification?

  • What has happened to the Sahel?

Class notes:

Links:Red Dust in Sydney

Lesson 3: Deforestation - causes and effects

Objectives: to answer the following questions
  • Where are the rainforests?

  • What is deforestation?

  • What are the causes of deforestation?

  • What are the impacts of deforestation?

Class notes:

Places to start your homework
and lots of videos here:

Lesson 4: Ways to counteract deforestation
Objectives: to answer the following questions
  • Review of causes and impacts of deforestation in the Amazon

  • What are the main ways of managing forests?

  • What are specific examples of the ways of managing rainforests?

Class notes:

http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/ A really good place to look for all sorts of forest stuff!

Rainforest management – examples from the Amazon

National Legislation

A Brazilian law called the Forest Code says that, in the Amazon, farmers should retain 80% of their lands under native vegetation. This not always enforced but organisations like Nature Conservancy are helping to implement it.

Research programs to investigate what may happen and what could work
The Woods Hole Center’s Amazon Program integrated scientific research, policy analysis, natural resource management systems, and education to help promote comprehensive conservation of the world’s largest tropical rainforest. With more than 20 institutional partners in South and North America and the devotion of eight staff members, this program is helping to lay the groundwork for ecologically sustainable, socially just, and economically viable development in the Amazon basin. A commitment to rigorous scientific research lies at the core of the program, along with informing policy analysis, forming strategic alliances with partners, and education. Program activities and field research is carried out throughout the region, including along the region’s new economic arteries – the highways that are being paved into the core of the Amazon – and expanding agricultural frontiers. Their goal is to use our scientific knowledge to explore new paths to development in the Amazon that will lead to a sustainable future for the region and its population.

Volunteer programs in the Amazon
These achieve objectives for the forest while at the same time raising awareness in the world at large to some of the issues involved

The project, located in El Tena, is one of the six stations created by the 'Ecuadorian Foundation for the protection, defense, and conservation of the natural and human environment, investigation and scientific education'.
The present size of this reserve is 2,000 hectares. The reserve was established thanks to donations from various individuals and organizations that were concerned by the rapid loss of the tropical Rainforests in the Amazon and the world. The Foundation has two main programmes that assist local communities through the preservation of the rainforest:

The Centre for Plant Conservation - which is a centre for experimental silviculture, more commonly known as 'woodland management', botanical gardens and agro-forestry extension programmes (fruit trees).
Organic Farming - educational and model farms for communities, seeking to produce alternative food sources as well as income.

Our Amazon project is deep in the western section of the rainforest, in Acre state. Acre has the Bolivian border to the south, and the Peruvian border to the west.
The Mahogany was a sought after commodity, particularly in the British and North American markets. It was ultimately this desire for mahogany, the once favoured wood for furniture making (amongst many other traditions) which today threatens the species. Our project then is to replant and protect the most endangered trees, plants and rainforest fauna. We do this by collecting seeds and fruits from endangered species, and replanting them in a nursery environment. The nursery stage is usually about 3 months in duration, after which the plants and seedlings are replanted in the Amazon Rainforest. The project objective is to replant some 50,000 hectares per year, we are currently only managing 2000 hectares per year - less than 5% of target..……This is why volunteers are needed.

The Conservancy’s Amazon Conservation Program: (National):
The program spans six countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela). Indigenous lands comprise more than 20% of the entire Amazon Basin, and area four times larger than Germany. There are more than 300 different indigenous groups in the Amazon Basin. After decades of struggle, indigenous people have recently gained legal title to their ancestral lands. The Conservancy is helping them responsibly manage and protect these new areas in their charge. This includes providing institutional support in training and public policy outreach to COIAB (Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon), the largest representative indigenous organization in the Brazilian Amazon.
A report on sustainable soy and other initiatives:

A great revision worksheet I borrowed from SLN - good for revision

Lesson 5 Greenhouse effect - causes, effects, impacts and the responses to it
Objectives: to answer the following questions
  • What is the greenhouse effect?

  • What are the causes of the enhanced greenhouse effect?

  • What are the effects of the greenhouse effect and what are the impacts on the world at large?
  • How is the world responding to climate change?

Class notes:None this week
Homework: A choice of 2 formats!

Links: Adapting to climate change: floating gardens in Bangladesh
Also from the Practical Action site you may be able to pick other ideas on farming and other areas of adjusting to climate change:
http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/our-work/ourwork_food and http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/our-work/ourwork_climatechange

Lesson 6 International action - mainly Kyoto
Objectives: to answer the following questions
  • What did Kyoto set out to do?

  • How did it set out to achieve its aims?

  • What are mechanisms in place to help change happen?
  • How is it going and what next?

Class notes:



You know we said in class that we could only produce 10-15% in the UK by renewable resources? Take a look at this!

The UK has set itself an ambitious renewables target which, if successful, will see the country generating 25% of its electricity needs from this offshore wind. To meet this target, we will need to deploy offshore wind energy on an unprecedented scale



Go to the revision page for session 1 - session 2 will be in place shortly