What is a forest?
How do we use forests?
What is happening to our forests?
Forests of the future
If pupils have done the activity Baka Community Lifestyle recap what they found out about people who live in the African rainforest. If not discuss with the pupils the ways that the forest is used to meet the needs of the people who live there, and reflect on the importance and value of the forest for them.
Ask the pupils to imagine that they are rainforest people. They live in the forest and rely on it for all their needs. Ask them to imagine that one day a Timber Company arrives in forest and wants to build a road so that they can transport logs out of the forest. What is the reaction of the forest people? In pairs they can discuss what their view (in role) of the new road is. What changes will it have on their lives? How might it improve your life? How might it make your life worse? Do you think different people in the community might see it differently?
Explain that the class are going to explore the different viewpoints of the issue. Split the class into two groups, facing each other to form a corridor or 'alley'. One group support the road development and the other half do not. . The pupils are going to create a dramatic representation of the conflicting thoughts going through the mind of the community leader ahead of the Timber Company arriving. The role of the community leader should first be played by the teacher to allow the class to get used to the technique.
Give the pupils' time with each other in their group to ensure they each have something to say to support the argument for or against the development. Encourage the pupils to think of a variety of reasons. However, for the purpose of the activity it is ok for the same reason to be repeated, as this would often happen when ruminating over a controversial issue. This means there will be a smooth transition from pupil to pupil if someone forgets what they were going to say.
When ready to begin, the teacher (in the role of community leader)should stand at one end of the alley in the middle between the two groups As she or he walks slowly down the alley, each pupil either side of him/her should voice their concern or enthusiasm for the proposed development.
Once the teacher has reached the end of the alley each pupil in the class should have had an opportunity to speak. Take a few minutes to reflect on how the activity went. How did the pupils on the pro-development side feel? How did the pupils on the anti-development side feel? Were the pupils placed in a group which conflicted with how they would feel in real life? If so, how do they feel now? This is a good opportunity to discuss how we can be persuaded by being part of a strong group. It is very important to then give the pupils the opportunity to repeat the activity from the opposing viewpoint.
Hold a plenary to discuss the positives and negatives of the issue. Did any pupils change their own viewpoint after listening to others?
It is important to make sure that for some of the forest people it will be seen as a positive for example greater access to education and medicine while others will others will see it as disrupting their way of life and creating problems. It has been documented that once a road has been built in a forest it encourages forest clearance for example, farming, within a 50km radius. In the African rainforest it also encourages the commercial bush meat trade as people can access the forest more easily.
More information about road building in the rainforest can be found at www.kids.mongabay.com/elementary/505.html