Deforestation and the Climate Cycle


The image to the right shows acres of forest in Mexico being cut down and burned to make way for agricultural land.

Approximately 50% of a tree's weight can be traced back to carbon that originated from atmospheric carbon dioxide. What happens to this carbon when forests are cut down to make way for agriculture and cattle farming, or simply to feed a family.

In Part A, you will use videos and an interactive to explore the impact of deforestation in the Amazon. You will then investigate a mini-case study on using Inga trees to mitigate environmental problems caused by slash and burning farming methods. In Part B, you will use the Global Forest Cover Tool at World Resources Institute to research changes in forest cover based on an original research question developed by you.

After completing this Lab, you should be able to:

  • Describe the relationship between forests, climate and the carbon cycle;
  • Describe how deforestation causes changes in the carbon cycle;
  • Describe the reasons for deforestation; and
  • Use the Global Forest Cover tool to research and keep track of changes in forest cover over time.

Keeping Track of What You Learn

Throughout these labs, you will find three kinds of questions.
  • Checking In questions are intended to keep you engaged and focused on key concepts and to allow you to periodically check if the material is making sense. These questions are often accompanied by hints or answers to let you know if you are on the right track.
  • Stop and Think questions are intended to help your teacher assess your understanding of the key concepts and skills you should be learning from the lab activities and readings.
  • Discuss questions are intended to get you talking with your neighbor. These questions require you to pull some concepts together or apply your knowledge in a new situation.
Your teacher will let you know which answers you should record and turn in.