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The land needed to feed and keep cattle is one of the leading causes of deforestation.


Forests form a large part of the GCSE Geography syllabus. This quiz is all about deforestation - the deliberate destruction of forests.

Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, an estimated 18 million acres of rainforest are lost each year. And according to a study by the US University of Maryland and the World Resource Institute, since the last century Indonesia has lost 15.79 million hectares of forest land.

Deforestation is far from a modern phenomenon. Examination of pollen levels has shown that extensive deforestation took place in the Neolithic period in the UK, and since 1600 90% of the forests in the US have been removed. Now the bulk of the worlds remaining indigenous forests are in Canada, Alaska, Russia and the north-western Amazon basin.

Some estimates state that over half the trees that are removed are used for fuel. Tracts are also removed to make space for housing and urbanisation, as well as for agriculture and cattle farming. In places such as Indonesia, palm oil is a leading reason for deforestation. Forests are also removed to supply hard woods, which are now a highly prized and expensive material. Other uses include paper manufacturing and gold or other mineral mining. On occasion forest fires destroy mature forests, but they make way for regrowth. Climate change means that some forests are dying out as mature trees fail to adapt to changing conditions and they are not replaced by younger trees - either due to the climatic changes, or to over grazing.

Whilst the destruction of the trees and the attendant ecosystems is itself a tragedy, deforestation is considered to be one of the major contributing factors to global climate change.

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What are the four main effects of deforestation?
Increased rainfall, soil erosion, lower water levels and increased carbon dioxide levels
Decrease in rainfall, soil erosion, serious flooding and increased carbon dioxide levels
Decrease in rainfall, silt build up, serious flooding and decreased carbon dioxide levels
Increase in plant growth, river erosion, high levels of flooding and increased carbon dioxide levels
The reduction in daily convectional rainfall will reduce the overall amount of rain, whilst the lack of trees to uptake water will lead to flash flooding. The nutrient poor soils can wash away rapidly, and the reduction in tree numbers will lead to higher levels of carbon in the atmosphere
What impact does deforestation have on the indigenous tribes living in the area?
The tribespeople earn money by selling the trees on their lands
Some tribes have been driven to near (and others to actual) extinction
The loggers provide jobs for the tribespeople
The incoming infrastructure provides facilities for the tribespeople
Illegal loggers have used gunmen to drive tribespeople from some areas, including tribes that have had no contact or limited contact with the outside world
Deforestation leads to a loss of biodiversity. What is the definition of biodiversity?
How the various species interact with each other
How producers are eaten by primary consumers who are in turn eaten by secondary consumers
The number of different species and the variations within and between species
The economic value of the species in a given area
Some areas of the rainforest contain thousands of as yet undiscovered species. Destruction of the rainforest means this biodiversity is lost even before it's been discovered
How would a plant-based diet reduce deforestation?
People will learn to respect vegetation more if it's part of their diet.
The land needed to feed cattle and for ranching is one of the leading causes of deforestation
Growing crops helps protect the rainforest
Many of the main crops grown for a plant based diet are grown in the under canopy of the rainforest
By using the land to grow crops to feed humans rather than to feed cattle, it can be better utilised and less is needed
What is slash and burn farming?
Certain crops, such as sugar cane, are easier to harvest if they are burned first
A technique that involves the cutting and burning of large swathes of forest to create fields
Setting fire to the bush and shrub to allow the growth of trees and other plants in the wake of the fire
Burning break lines in the forest to prevent the spread of wildfires
The ash from the burned trees gives some nutrients to the soil for a few years of growing. The problem is that it can only be used for farming for a few years, then a new area needs to be 'slashed and burned'. Recovery of the natural forest takes much longer than the time it took to destroy it
What percentage of the world's tropical rainforests have already been lost?
Half of the world's tropical rainforests have already been destroyed. With tropical rainforest soils highly susceptible to erosion, the loss of these trees leads to massive soil degradation and makes it very difficult for the forest to recover
How does satellite imagery help reduce deforestation?
It helps to reduce illegal logging
It prevents legal logging
It helps to find alternative places for farmers to plant crops
It helps in the monitoring of river movements in the rainforest
By monitoring the reduction in trees, areas where illegal logging is being undertaken can be spotted
Why do some people argue that MEDCs have a duty to provide aid to LEDCs to help them reduce both their reliance on wood and their removal of the tropical forest to create space for agriculture?
MEDCs removed large swathes of their forests to help fuel economic growth. If the planet needs the rainforests to remain in place countries that are already developed need to help LEDCs to go through economic growth without the same destruction of natural resources
As the more developed nations are better educated than the less developed ones, they are allowed to give them orders. Therefore they can tie any aid to conditions
MEDCs have to give out aid money in some form each year. It makes sense for a certain amount of that to be spent on preserving the rainforest rather than other less important projects
The only way for LEDCs to progress is to for MEDCs to provide aid
A large number of the tropical rainforests are located in LEDCs. They need this raw material to help them develop and to fund economic growth. By providing aid to develop sustainable solutions, MEDCs can help LEDCs preserve their rainforests
Which of the following is not a reason for cutting down trees?
Fuel use
To provide land for farming
For building materials
For use as a biofuel
The land left after trees are removed is often used to grow crops like sugar cane to produce biofuels
Which of the following is not a way that we as consumers can help reduce deforestation?
Not using products containing palm oil
Recycling wood and paper
Buying sustainable wood and paper products
Increasing our use of fair trade products
Fair trade products help the producers get a fair price. Increasing the use of any wood based product will increase the number of trees being cut down
Author:  Ruth M

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