This page archived August 2008
Basically then, deserts, tropical rainforests, temperate forests, Mediterranean garrigue, tundra etc are all biomes. They are generally controlled by the climate of the region, but within that broad definition, all levels of inter-relationships develop. Each climate will also develop its own climax vegetation. This page contains information on TROPICAL RAIN FORESTS and DESERTS. There are obviously many other biomes, and I may well add those as time goes on.
LESSON PLANS are further down the page.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO YEAR 9 RAINFOREST PROJECT DETAILS
This is being replaced by Assessment for Learning based resource.
There is a huge amount of material on this biome on the Internet, and the problem is finding material at an appropriate level for your particular project or lesson. All of the links below would have relevant material for Key Stage 3 or higher.
Rainforests cover 2% of the earth's surface, or 6% of its landmass. They house over half the earth's plant and animal species. They originally covered twice the area they cover today.
First try visiting RAINFORESTS.ORG (which speaks for itself)
There is a tremendous archive at the RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK. Recommended. Try the KID'S CORNER for a starter.
There are some useful pictures and facts, suitable for lower school projects on the AMAZON INTERACTIVE page.
The EDEN PROJECT opened several years ago in Cornwall. It has become perhaps the most successful of the many Millennium projects, and has rejuvenated the area of Cornwall in which it is located. It is the brainchild of Tim Smit (my sister bought me the book on the project for Christmas...) The project was built in a quarry and has a series of biomes. The aim is to reconstruct the main biomes, and does so spectacularly according to the pictures I have seen. Kew Gardens also saw the flowering of a corpse flower which is a feature of rainforest environments. The rafflesia also features in David Attenborough videos and always gets a good reaction from Year 9 groups. The website has now been substantially added to, and has some excellent resources in the HUMID TROPICAL BIOME section. There is also a link to materials produced by LEARN: the Guardian educational site.
My new favourite rainforests site is at FOCUS ON FORESTS. The site is nicely designed, and has a helpful Chameleon to guide users through the site. It's produced by the World Land Trust. The website is divided into chapters: an Introduction to forests, case studies and issues facing forests. You can also register if you're a teacher and download some useful PDF files including a teachers' handbook. Recommended.
Need an example of a rainforest conservation project ? Try this case study of the IWOKRAMA PROJECT in Guyana. This case study from GLOBAL EYE is well worth a look. The project also has its own HOME PAGE. This has lots of facts and photos, and you can take a virtual walk through the rainforest. It doesn't quite get your shirt sticking to your back, but it's a start. You could always bring in a squirty bottle and get into the spirit of things.
A wonderful resource from GEM looking at environmental problems in tropical forests, but other forests too. This is a great site for research.http://qanda.encyclopedia.com/question/rainforest-141384.html
There is also the RAINFOREST WEB site. This is billed as the World Rainforest Information Portal, and it's full of facts. Some of the links are out of date, even ones from the home page. Oh well.
A recent discovery is a useful starting point for anyone DOING A PROJECT on the rainforests.
Try HERE too. ABCTEACH, which was a link from this other great LIST OF LINKS. There's too much out there really which could get a little overwhelming if anything. Tips on how to make your room into a rainforest.
Play the part of a coffee farmer in the AMAZON with this EDUWEB game.
For some very good resources, including some PDF downloads and a very good images of the STRUCTURE of the rainforest, go to this New Zealand based site ZOO RAINFOREST. Some rather good materials and descriptions which will help Year 9 students with the project.
Go HERE for a map to show the area where the Kayapo Indians live. A quick search will provide a lot of material on this indigenous group. They live in the area of the Xingu River in the state of Para.
Recently bought a cheap copy of Ray Mears' 'Bushcraft' book to go with his survival series. These programmes make for a useful introduction to rainforest and other environments, and the problems of surviving in them, and Ray often makes contact with indigenous people in order to survive. Similar useful programmes I have on tape include a programme with Lenny Henry and Lofty Wiseman in the Peruvian rainforest, Ewen Macgregor in the Amazon, and Billy Connolly in the Arctic. A recent addition was Ian Wright with the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert. The students really seem to interact well with these programmes and respond to the situations and the humour. They tend to be repeated on BBC satellite channels fairly regularly, so keep an eye out for them.
There's a good mystery on the death of Chico Mendes at the STAFFORDSHIRE LEARNING NET site (see TOPTEN). This is in the GeoExcellence section. The resources you can download include a nice background to the life and death of Chico (although there is a slight disparity on the dates of his birth and death and his age...), some cards which go through the use and abuse of the forest and a list of suspects. A quick search of the net will throw up useful sites. CHICOMENDES.COM is an obvious one to visit. There are also brief biographies of him HERE and HERE. I have the book on his life and it's an inspirational read. Think it must be up in the loft though as I can't seem to find it...
How about being careful with the wood that you buy and making sure that it doesn't come from the forest. There's already the tick mark which shows this. Try the SMARTWOOD site, or that of the RAINFOREST ALLIANCE.
There's the obvious irony of the fact that trees are chopped down to produce the glossy tomes which are all about rainforest conservation - although some of these admittedly are on recycled paper and very few of them are actually made of pulp from rainforest trees - but anyway to get to the point. Obviously internet sites are one way of getting the message across in a multimedia sort of way. RAINFOREST CONCERN has moved online, and now has a site which features a chance for younger age groups to try to identify rainforest animals from their sounds. There's also a brief film. Go to RAINFOREST CONCERN for more. There's also a chance to download some teachers' notes - and print them off...You can run the animations from online, or download them to your hard drive as the site will run slowly with several students connected to the network, or with a dial up connection. Recommended. Watch the bugs crawl over the pages of the book.
MAHOGANY is now getting very rare due to over-extraction. There are several species of Mahogany: the trees can reach up to 50m in height, with a trunk 12m in circumference. It has a deep dark glow. Exportation of mahogany has been banned in Brazil since October 2001.
Try FURNITURE BUYING for some detail on the use of sustainable sources of timber for furniture.
RAINFOREST INFO has a detailed analysis of the CAUSES of rainforest destruction.
Why doesn't the forest just grow back when we leave it alone ?
The forest can grow back to a certain extent, producing secondary forest. This is because seeds from trees will quickly move to colonise any gap in the canopy. However, this can only work when the area of forest that has been cleared is a small area and is surrounded by other areas of forest. Think of an analogy of a wound. A small cut will generally scab over and heal fairly quickly, but if you chopped your arm off it wouldn't grow back...unless you're a starfish, in which case "gloop gloop glopp gleep". The Deep Jungle series showed some of the symbiotic relationships which develop.
There are creatures that have adapted in very specific ways, and as a result they don't cope well with change. Some creatures adapt using MIMICRY: they grow to look like other creatures or items e.g. caterpillars that look like bird droppings to avoid being eaten.
- slippery bark, or bark that peels off very easily, so that vines and lianas can't get a grip to cover them
- some plants develop poisonous secretions
Some animals develop specific food supplies e.g. caterpillars that feed only on algae which grows on the fur of sloths - this is a symbiotic relationship.
Go to the LONGMAN site for some useful materials too. This is a very useful general site too for other information, and has some nice animated GIFs.
Sustainable development is not perhaps about merely preserving the forest as it is. It has to be productive, and to provide a living for people into the future.
Need to reduce damage caused by using selective logging. This means avoiding clear felling and slash-and-burn techniques.
Many loggers are illegal, they will not follow the rules on management techniques.
Increasing threat as S E Asian forest start to disappear.
Stop cattle ranching
One main problem in the AMAZON are FIRES. This PLANET ARK article describes a large fire in March 2003 in the Barcelos region of Amazon.
The AMAZONIA website has some useful information on the 'Amazonia Legal' i.e. the Brazilian Amazon.
Go to the FAO site for details on the STATE OF THE WORLD's FORESTS for 2001 and other years.
A very useful book is the Bradt Guide to 'The Amazon' by Roger Harris and Peter Hutchison (£14.95 or less)
It's our choice: SAVE OR DELETE. This site by GREENPEACE encourages people to do more to protect the world's remaining ancient forests. Visitors are encourage to review the information, and then vote to either Save or Delete.
Why not check out THE LIVING RAINFOREST. They also sell RAINFOREST ALLIANCE CERTIFIED COFFEE, which is a similar system to FAIRTRADE.
There's a website called RAINFORESTS IN THE CLASSROOM. This is an e-mail newsletter for teachers at RAINFOREST HEROES.
Also check out the man who has just finished swimming the length of the AMAZON ! Could be a context for some work...
Also some recent reports on SOYA PRODUCTION and PALM OIL production, and their connection to rainforest destruction.
The huge diurnal temperature range in deserts produces problems for anything living in them: plants, animals or people. They also cause the rocks themselves to break apart and weather - exfoliation results in sudden explosions which sound like gunshots across the silent desert sands...
Ray Mears, as mentioned earlier, produced an excellent program on how to survive in desert environments which gives an excellent picture of the problems facing the indigenous peoples, and anyone whose 4x4 runs out of diesel. Not that you're likely to find yourself in that situation in a hurry...
We also use an adaptation of an old NASA survival game. Participants have to decide what are going to be the most useful items. Also a programme from the 'Landmarks' series looking at the Tuareg. The game's copyright is owned by HUMAN SYNERGISTICS, so it has been removed from the site.
The USGS (of course...) have produced an excellent online tutorial to DESERTS. Visit it quick!
Try also the details on the Sahara desert at the EDEN FOUNDATION site.
Remember that MICHAEL PALIN's site will have extracts, photos and details from his trip across the SAHARA.
There are frequent repeats of classic David Attenborough series on the various BBC lifestyle channels. These often feature the plants and animals of the desert and the way that they cope with the lack of moisture.
Also check out PLANET EARTH, which we have on DVD in the Geography department.
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