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Sustainable development

"Environmental change and sustainable development" is one of the four key aspects of the geography programme of study and is a required theme of all GCSE and A-level specifications.

To use this picture across all key stages: first, let the pupils react to the image. What do they think - is it interesting, strange, beautiful? The programme of study encourages this approach from the youngest age , for instance, at KS1, pupils should "express their own views about people, places and environments".

Follow up this initial response with appropriately differentiated activities. At KS1, explore learning about, and caring for, the trees in the school grounds (PoS 5a and d). At KS2, children can use the topic to follow investigating tropical deforestation (PoS 6e). At KS3, the topic is suitable for exploring, through role-play, how conflicting demands on an environment can arise (6 b j i).

For GCSE students, the topic can be used to focus on analysing the pattern of trade in hardwoods and the importance of this resource to less economically developed countries, while for post-16 work, it can kick-start discussion on considering the moral issues raised when the rich world tries to stop the poor world from exploiting its natural resources. After all, we cleared our forests centuries ago.

Geographers can also use the commodity chain to link the natural and human environments, and to form the basis of an extended geographical enquiry (PoS 2). What soil does mahogany grow in? What climate does it require? How long does it take to mature? What is it used for? How much is it worth? Are world stocks declining? What can be done to sustain the forest?



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