Living World – 7 Causes of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest

Watch the video below for a recap from this unit and a reminder what will be covered this week from Miss Smart at BMA who is leading these lessons

Changing rates of deforestation

The amount of deforestation happening around the world has changed over time but it is also changing at different rates in different parts of the world.

Watch this time lapse video which shows the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest:

Study the two graphs below and then answer the questions beneath:

Click to reveal the answers.
Answer the following questions using information from the graphs above.
Using the first graph:
1) What was the overall pattern of deforestation up until 1950-79?
2) What happened to the rate of deforestation since 1979?
3) Was there an anomaly (outlier) in this pattern?
Using the second graph:
4) Which 3 countries had an increase in rates of deforestation in 2005-2010 compared to 2000-2005?
5) Which 3 countries had a decrease in rates of deforestation in 2005-2010 compared to 2000-2005?
  1. Deforestation increased from 10 millions hectares pre 1700 to 320 million hectares in 1950-79.
  2. Since 1979 the rate of deforestation has decreased 110 million hectares in 1996-2010.
  3. Yes, in 1850-1919 the rate of deforestation decreased by 40 million hectares.
  4. Indonesia, Malaysia and Guatemala had the biggest increase in rates of deforestation. Indonesia experienced the greatest increase by 107%.
  5. Laos, Brazil and Nicaragua had the biggest decrease in rates of deforestation. Laos had the greatest decrease in deforestation by -37%.

Location of the Amazon rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest is the case study that you are going to be studying for this part of the Living World topic.

Here are some amazing facts about the Amazon:

• It is home to 1000 species of bird and 60,000 species of plants
• 10 million species of insects live in the Amazon
• It is home to 20 million people, who use the wood, cut down trees for farms and for cattle.
• It covers 2.1 million square miles of land
• The Amazon is home to almost 20% of species on Earth
• The UK and Ireland would fit into the Amazon 17 times!

Task: Have a look at the map of the location of the Amazon rainforest.

Your task is to describe the location of the Amazon.
You should include:
Ø  The name of the continent
Ø  Names of countries that the rainforest is in/countries that border it
Ø  Names of oceans or seas that it may border
Ø  Use geographical language e.g. north, south, east, west

Causes of deforestation in the Amazon

Deforestation is the process of cutting down of trees. The timber is a highly valued export. Deforestation then means the land can be used for other profit-making enterprises, like farming and the production of palm oil. The photos below show six causes of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Task: Complete the table of causes

Using the 6 different causes in the photographs above, you need to complete the table below. You can either copy out this table or download a word document below.

You need to describe what the cause of deforestation is (i.e. what is commercial farming), say whether you think it is an example of deforestation happening on a small scale (i.e. in a small part of the Amazon rainforest) or on a large scale (i.e. covering huge areas of the Amazon rainforest). The final column is where you explain how this cause is leading to the removal of trees and it should include case study specific information about the Amazon rainforest.

To complete the table, you will need to use a combination of the information boxes and videos below:

Commercial farming 1:30 – 4:30 minutes
Road building 4:30 minutes onwards
Settlement and pop. growth 7:15 minutes
Farming / cattle ranching up to 4:00 minutes
Mining from 4:00 minutes

Logging in the Amazon

Extension task:

Pick one cause which you think will have the biggest long term impact to the Amazon rainforest and explain why.

1)Download the keywords and learn the definitions
2) Complete the revision and test from BBC Bitesize on rainforests using the button below (this was set last week in the blog post too)

Some activities and images used have been resourced from GCSE Geography AQA -Simon Ross, Nicholas Rowles, David Holmes, Bob Digby. Published by Oxford.