Archive for the 'Ecosystems' Category

Y8 Deforestation for Palm Oil

Ever heard of palm oil?  do you ever use it?  do you know where it comes from? 

Palm oil is used by virtually every one of us in one form or another.  In its basic form it is used in processed or prepared foods such as bread, cakes, breakfast cereals and ready meals, as well as ice cream, margarine and crisps.  Unlike oil seed rape and sunflower oils palm oil is valued because it is solid at room temperature.  Palm oil is also cheaper than other types of oils. 

The vast majority of the worlds palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia  where the expansion of the industry has destroyed millions of hectares of rainforest.  This deforestation is said to be far greated than the rate of deforestation due to logging in the Amazon rainforest. 

In the past the majority of palm oil production has been for food and cosmetics but now the European Union have agreed to cut greenhouse gasses by 20%  by 2020 we are having to find a new source of fuel for our transport.  The answer is said to be bio-fuels however this will mean that Indonesia and Malaysia will produce more palm oil which will result in further destruction of some of the most valuable rainforest on the planet. 

The effect of this destruction will mean that many species of plants and animals that live in these rainforests  will be lost forever.  Examples of species that will be lost are the Sumatran tiger, Asian Elephant and the Orangutans of Borneo.

The FOE (Friends of the Earth) have highlighted how the palm oil industry is having a devastating impact on the orangutans of Sumatra and Borneo.  The orangutans like eating the palm oil fruit in the plantations and the farmers don’t like this so they have been killing the orangutans even though they are protected under national laws.  The rate of the forest clearance along with the killing of the orangutans by farmers is happening so quickly it is said that orangutans could be extinct within 15 years.  98% of the Indonesian forest is expected to be destroyed by 2022.  At the moment there are between 55,000 and 60,000 Orangutans in Borneo but 5,000 to 10,000 orangutans are killed each year.


The weeks homework is to find out which products in your home have palm oil in them.  This is quite difficult because often it is not labelled as palm oil but vegetable oil and it is often called numerous names.  Below are some of the names Palm oil goes by.  Download the worksheet below to help you collect your findings. 

  Click here to download the homework sheet

 Click here to open up a google earth file to show where Borneo is and also some overlays showing distributions of Orangutans in 1930, 1999 and 2004.  You can also watch the youtube video below in google earth.

 Names under which palm oil and its derivities appear.

Cety alcohol
Dicetyldimonium chloride
Elaeis guineensis
Isopropyl palmitate, octyl palmitate, potassium palmitate, retinyl palmitate.
Vit A Palmitate
Palmitic acid
Palm kernel oil
Palm kernelamide DEA and MEA
Palm oil
Palm olein vegetable oil
Steareth-2, Steareth-20
Sodium palm kernelate
Vegetable oil

Find out more

Below are some other links that will help you with next lessons task

Palm oil biofuel of the future – guardian article 

Friends of the earth link for more info about palm oil

Born to be wild – a web site looking at the impact on the orangutans

Roundtable on sustainable palm oil -this is an organisation that aims to promote the use of sustainable palm oil use.  Many companies and supermarkets are now signing up to this.

Watch this video to find out more about the impact on the forest

A sky news report on the effects of Palm Oil production on the Orangutans



The big garden bird watch 08


 The RSPB are holding a big garden bird watch this weekend for the whole country.  All you have to do is spend one hour recording how many birds you see of each species.  You can download the official counting sheet here

counting sheet this is a pdf file

I know there are a few birders out there so get twitching.

Here is a warm up for you can you identify these birds native to UK

This bird is famous for its aerial displays in large flocks. It is a common visitor to British Gardens.

This is a very common bird to be found in a garden.  This is the male of the species, the females are brown.  It has one of the loveliest of all bird songs and likes fruit such as grapes.

This small bird and has a distinctive black cap and grey back.  This bird often visits peanut feeders.

This is the second most common breeding bird in the UK.  It is usually heard before it is seen and can be found mostly under bird feeders.

 Good luck and leave a comment to let me know how you got on with your bird count.

Y8 The Perfect Animal

Today you will have been shown the clip below and asked the question ‘is a shark the perfect animal?’  This was aimed to get you thinking about how animals adapt to their environment and your task today and for your homework is to design your own animal for the particular environment you have been given. 

You must think about the types of characteristics your animal will have so as to be able to cope with the environment and other predators within it.  A diary for a day in the life of your animal must also be included.

Y8 What Eats What?

This term year 8 are studying ecosystems.  To get you in the mood for this weeks homework I have decided to give you some relaxing music to listen to whilst you complete your logic puzzle what eats what.  Can you guess which ecosystem this is from.  Click on the speaker to activate and then press play

Here is the matrix you will need to complete this homework

Pick Up A Penguin Or Just Watch One.

Lots of people in the geography community are talking about penguins this week so I thought I would look for myself. On the island of South Georgia they have set up a web cam that updates every three minutes. The first time I went the penguins must have gone off somewhere for lunch but this morning they are back. Click the refresh button to see what they are doing now the image updates every three minutes or click the image to go directly to the web site.

click here to see what they are doing now

“This webcam is situated in Larsen House at King Edward Point. The view is south east across Cumberland Bay East to the Greene Peninsula and the mountains beyond. Dartmouth Point is in the middle ground and Susa Point in the foreground. The steps on the right lead into Larsen House. Tussac grass is growing immediately in front of the steps. From October to March elephant seals, penguins and fur seals will be on the beach in front of the web cam.” extract from the web site

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We’re Trashing it

Back by popular demand is the McDonalds game.  I have heard recently that McDonalds is trying to improve its image, well it needs to do something.

we're killing you

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