The Role of Livestock Production in Global Deforestation

Warm-up: The Importance of Rainforests

1. Begin this lesson by discussing the importance of rainforests based on the information section above.

2. As a class, test your rainforest knowledge by taking the quiz here: http://www.nature.org/rainforests/explore/quiz.html.

3. How did you do? Discuss your performance. What answers most surprised you? What facts would you like to know more about?

 

Activity One: Deforestation Maps

1. Show students Reproducible #1 – Deforestation Maps (as handout or projection). Students will compare these images and define deforestation. They will discuss the magnitude of deforestation, its potential causes, and related problems.

2. Students will discuss how livestock production contributes to massive deforestation in the world’s largest forest system, the Amazon.

 

Activity Two: Border Dispute on Hispañola

1. Project Reproducible #2 – Haiti and the Dominican Republic for the class to see.[1]

2. Discuss this photo using the following points as guides:

a. Which side is Haiti and which is the Dominican Republic? Haitiis to the left (west) and the Dominican Republic is to the right (east).

b. Why is the forest thriving in one country and almost nonexistent in the other?

c. What socioeconomic factors might account for this difference?

d. What role might government regulation play?

 

Activity Two: Amazonian Conflicts

1. Divide students into 7 groups, giving each one of the 7 roles defined in Reproducible #2 – Amazonian Conflicts.

2. The class should have a discussion as representatives of their group, based on their interests and rights as defined in Reproducible #2 – Amazonian Conflicts.

3. Students should conclude their discussion by considering the following:

  • What socioeconomic and political factors in Amazonian countries might exacerbate the deforestation problem there, and what needs to be done to stop deforestation?
  • What group(s) is excluded from the debate? Who speaks for nature? How/why? Are there rights for nature?
  • Are industrialized countries justified in decreasing their costs at the expense of the parties that are against deforestation?
  • Are there any other methods of agriculture that could reduce the harm to the environment and people of the Amazon?

 

Wrap Up: Amazonian Conflict Memorandum Assignment

As a representative of their group from the prior activity, students will prepare a brief international memorandum for a hypothetical government leader of their country that will soon attend an international meeting regarding the spread of agriculture as a cause of deforestation in the Amazon. This leader is concerned about her constituency and wants a 2-page report from these groups to better help her prepare for a trip. She will have to give a solid argument defending this interest group’s support, taking into account the socioeconomic and political factors involved.

 

Extension: Actions to Support the Rainforests

  1. Have your class brainstorm actions that they can take on an individual level to reduce deforestation of the Amazon and other rainforests.  Examples might include: eating less meat (try cutting meat out of one meal a day, one day a week, or more!), reducing carbon emissions contributing to global climate change, or writing letters to government representatives stating their concerns.
  1. Visit the sites of rainforest organizations such as the Prince’s Rainforest Project (http://www.princesrainforestsproject.org/) to find out what your class can do to help. Sign up to show your support and get involved!

 

Conclusion

 

The harmful effects of large-scale farming and ranching are a serious concern in countries all over the world.  In this lesson, students discussed deforestation, its causes and effects. They also role-played as representatives of various interest groups, and wrote a persuasive report defending their rights and interests to gain a better understanding of the issues on hand.