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Rainforests - Deforestation in the Amazon Classroom Resources



Through the video students are introduced to deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, the cause and impacts and how this connects to our eating and shopping choices.

Key Issues

- Deforestation - causes and effects.
- The importance of the Amazon Rainforest.
- Agriculture and jobs vs environmental protection.
- Biodiversity.
- The global food system.
- How our food choices affect communities around the world.


The main cause of deforestation in this part of the Amazon is not logging or ranching, as in other areas, but the production of soya beans. Soya is a cheap, protein rich food source and is exported to Europe, the USA and China to feed chickens, pigs and cows. This demand is largely driven by an increasing number of global consumers wanting cheap meat. As places like China become wealthier the number of people who can afford meat increases and this increases demand for animal feed such as soya beans. In the port of Santarém the large US firm Cargill opened a soya bean exporting terminal in 2003, but this has been controversial. Cargill was accessed of not having completed an adequate environmental impact statement and people see the port as providing an incentive for farmers to increase the rates of deforestation locally. More recently Cargill announced a two-year moratorium on buying soya grown on newly deforested land to help prevent further deforestation in the area.


Starter Activities

  Show various well known products (pictures or real products) some of which have been linked to some causes of deforestation in the Amazon. Example could include McDonalds burgers, rubber products (e.g. rubber band/tyre), the desk (or other wood/logging products), meat or soya bean products.
  Show a photo montage of some of the impacts of deforestation (flooding, poor soil, endangered animals and peoples, climate change etc) and ask students to identify the dangers associated with them on different scales.


Enquiry Questions

- If you lived in Santarém would you be pleased with the jobs provided by Cargill or worried about the environmental impact?
- The soya beans grown in Santarém are for the global meat industry, so should we all become vegetarians?
- How do our choices at the supermarket affect the Amazon rainforest its people?

Lesson Activities

The video throws up a number of different issues and could be incorporated into a variety of main lesson activities. Here are a few examples:

  • Write a letter to your local supermarket explaining the impact of deforestation, what products are sometimes connected to deforestation and asking them ensure they are not contributing to deforestation.
  • Annotate a diagram/photo/satellite picture of a deforested forest showing the causes and impacts (e.g. on climate, soil, people and biodiversity) of biodiversity. Or see the worksheet for an exercise about the impacts deforestation in the Amazon.
  • Debate the positive and negative impacts of the Cargill factory and port on the Santarém area. Groups of students take a certain point of view (e.g. factory manager, local resident, Amazonian Indian, European chicken famer, Brazilian environmentalist etc) and explain why the plant should stay or not. At the end the class has a vote.


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