The Forest Cover in Africa

Question 1 –                                                                                          (264 words)

In your opinion, what are the most serious environmental issues today? Outline

one global and one local issue and give two reasons for each choice.           (20marks)

The most serious environmental issues are air pollution, global warming, littering, food waste, and soil contamination.

The earth’s average temperature has increased by 0.8 C since 1880, and 2/3rd

of it since 1974 at the rate of 0.15C to 0.20C per decade. Global warming is caused by increasing GHGs – exponential rise in CO2 from 280 ppm in 1750 to 406 ppm in 2017. Industries are the major sources CO2.

Melting of ice caps leading to rise in sea levels threatening to submerge low-lying coastal areas, islands and atolls is one of the obvious impacts. Erratic weather patterns, increased incidences of contagious diseases are less obvious impacts.

Planting of more trees to uptake CO2 is one solution. The space sunshades envisages putting sunshades to earth in the outer space that will cut incoming sunlight by two percent. This reduction is expected to cool the earth to pre industrial revolution times.


Littering in UK is a major problem – 62% of people drop litter. Since 1960’s, the amount of litter in UK has increased by 500% - 122 tons per day of cigarette butts is littered. Fines haven’t stopped people from littering – only 2,000 of the 825,000 reported cases saw convictions. It costs over a billion pounds annually to clean litter. Litter damages vehicle tyres, harms animals, clogs drains, leads to increased rat population. Experts are calling for long-term behaviour insight, behaviour change, and educational projects as way to change the UK’s culture of littering.

Give two reasons for choosing these global and local issues.

Litter is nauseating and depressing; it’s a national shame.

Global warming threatens the earth and is responsible for recent floods in UK.

Question 2 (No word limit)

A. Outline the main trends in the area of forest cover for each of the four countries shown between 1990 and 2015. State whether Figure 1 tells you anything about the causes of the trends. (5 marks)

1. The representative African countries considered for the Africa forest coverage study are Gabon (Western Africa), Ethiopia (Eastern Africa), Sudan (Eastern Africa) and Zimbabwe (Southern Africa).

2. 1990 is taken as the base line condition year against which all comparisons are to be made.

3. There is no data for 1995.

4. In 1990, Sudan with 24 MH had the highest forest cover followed closely by Gabon and Zimbabwe, with 22 MH each, in the second position, and Ethiopia, with 15 MH, in the last place.,

5. Since 1990, Forest cover has declined in all countries, except Gabon.

6. During the last five years, if Gabon has successfully increased its forest cover by a million hectares and Ethiopia has successfully arrested its forest cover loss Zimbabwe and Sudan have not been so fortunate.

7. In 25 years (1990 – 2005) Zimbabwe lost the most forest cover – 8 MH, followed by Sudan with 5 MH

8. In 1990, Sudan had the highest forest cover with 24 MH. But, in just two and one half decade it lost a substantial amount, 5 MH, of its forest cover and now stands second after Gabon.

9. The Figure 1 does not give any indication into the causes for the trends.

B. Estimate the area of forest cover in 2000 and in 2015 for each of the four countries and record the results in a table.

Table  1: Forest  Cover  in  African  Countries







2000 Forest Cover (MH)

2015 Forest Cover (MH)

Change in 15 yr (MH)

Average Change/yr (H)


























Sample Calculation

D  = (C-B), where Column heading alphabets represent the data in the respective columns.

E = D/25

Negative sign indicates loss of forest cover area.

The average (mean) change in forest cover per year over the past fifteen year period across the four representative African states is -600,000 hectares. The negative sign indicates a loss of forest cover. 

C. In Nigeria the area of forest in 2000 was approximately 13 million hectares and in 2015 it was approximately 7 million hectares. Calculate the average (mean) change per year over the period. Compare this answer to your answer in part (b), and comment on the comparison.    (5 marks)

Year 2000 – 13,000,000 ha                              Year 2015 – 7,000,000 ha

Average per year change of forest cover in Nigeria for the period 2000 – 2015 is 400,000 ha. {(13,000,000 – 7,000,000)/15 = 6,000,000/15 = 400,000 ha per yr}

Average per year change of forest cover for Africa for the period 2000 – 2015 is also 600,000

So, Nigerian forest cover loss is [(400,000/600,000)100] = 2/3rd of the average African forest cover loss.

D. Using examples from Block 1 Parts 1 and 2, identify two possible consequences of the change in forest cover identified in b.    (6 marks)

Among the many impacts of loss of vast areas of forest cover are loss of biodiversity and an overall decrease in CO2 uptake due to loss of green cover contributing to global warming, melting of polar ice caps, sea level rise, global climate change. Biodiversity loss impacts food security, vulnerability to natural disasters, health (risk of exposure to diseases), energy security, provision of clean water, social relations, basic materials for a good life and sustainable livelihoods and may even lead to species extinction.

E. Imagine you have been asked to give a biased view of the information in Figure 1. How could you use some of the data in the figure selectively, to give the impression that changes in forest cover are more dramatic in any particular country?         (4 marks)

Every single year during the past quarter of a century, more than half of Africa’s forest cover loss (600,000 ha/yr), occurred in Zimbabwe (320,000 ha/yr)

Question 3                                                                                             (409 words)

a. From your knowledge of Block 1, outline the characteristics of the Anthropocene period the writer refers to in the first paragraph. (125 words)                          (4 marks)

The most striking characteristic of the Anthropocene period is the adverse environmental impact that the anthropos (man in greek) have on the ‘blue marble’. Industrial revolution, capitalism, population explosion, consumption, over exploitation of natural resources, global warming (burning of fossil fuels, rising of GHGs levels), loss of biodiversity or Sixth extinction (?), nuclear weapons, plastic waste, ground water and surface waters pollution, soil pollution are just a few of the adverse environmental effects that are unique to this period that have left an indelible mark on this planet signalling a starting of new deep time period.

b. What supporting evidence does the writer offer for the effects of plastics on marine life in the article?

The author offers ample evidence to highlight the issue of adverse impact of plastics on marine life. Quoting The Sunday Times he observes that plastic is found everywhere – even in the frozen Arctic sea. He cites an estimate of a staggering 12 million tonnes of plastic being dumped into the ocean every year that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. He explains how the plastic breaks into microplastics and gets taken up by the lowest organisms in the ocean food chain and then gets bioconcentrated and biomagnified as it moves up the food chain. He also elucidates how plastics adsorb other toxic chemicals onto themselves which then goes through the process of bioconentrationa nd biomagnifications and ends up on our plates in our seafood diet. Microbeads used in shampoos and creams are the newest kind of plastics in the saga of plastic pollution.

c. In your own words, explain the linear and circular economies discussed in the article.

The term linear economy refers to extraction of natural resources to make goods for consumption and dumping them in landfills or incinerate them after use. Circular economy refers to ‘reuse’ and ‘recycle’ the good as much as possible which ‘reduces’ consumption. The name “Circular economy” is the new buzzword for the good old 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

d. What is the source of this article? Suggest who the intended audience might be and the purposse for which it might it have been written.

The source of this article is the The Sunday Times of September 4th, 2016.

The intended audience is the average, educated, Briton, and all those Brits who exhibit a dump-and-forget attitude toward plastics. This is a highly emotional pitch by the author – almost chiding the reader – to get out of the couch and start acting. The article is also aimed at the designers, manufacturers and retailers of plastic to not just glibly say that the plastic is recyclable, but must actually provide the entire collection chain of bins for the recyclable material, shipping the collected material to the recycling facility and actually recycling the recyclable plastic.


Question4                                                                                              (330 words)

a. What prompted you to take up studies about the environment? How far were you motivated by personal interest, career hopes, or something quite different? Write a few sentences to explain your motivation, both for yourself and to help your tutor to understand your motivations.                (4 marks)

I come from Millela, Spain, a beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea. We keep our city and beaches spick-and- span. We pride in our environment, particularly marine environment. We scuba dive and learn about the marine life. During my Biology classes I learned to appreciate the micro world by placing sea water under the microscope. Studying Environmental Science was a natural choice. I want to take this education and contribute my best to conserve biodiversity of the microorganisms. I want to study effects of human activities on microorganisms.

b. How do you feel your studies are progressing? Identify three things, at least one that is going well, and at least one you find more challenging.           (6 marks)

Good part: Study at my leisure. Bad Part: Bring myself to study, as my attention is divided.

Currently I am struggling to comprehend all of this. I believe as the course advances, the purpose will become clearer. I will devote more time for studies as I plan to quit working.

Identify three things, at least one that is going well.

I am improving my study skills and I am getting more confident as i study more. I am beginning to like my subjects and know what my real interest’s are.

c. Looking ahead, outline how you plan to manage your study time for the module.                                                                                                (5 marks)

I have successfully navigated my way at the OU with everything that the OU student home had to offer. It gives support on making a study plan which is a big help. Currently it has been tough, because of shortage of time. So, I have decided to quit working in order concentrate 100% on my studies. I plan on creating a 6 hr./day study plan, do research, visit library, join other networks, learn more and be open to other views.

d. Besides time management choose one other skill you plan to develop over the next few months. What made you choose this skill and what might your first steps be?                                                                                        (5 marks)

Managing my priorities: Adult students who have families and are also managing a job have lot of things to do and 24 hrs is inadequate. To utilize ones time optimally one has to prioritize the myriad things that one is required to do.

The reason i choose to prioritize my chores is because I was being inefficient at doing things. Deep down I knew I could it better. Prioritization is going to help me achieve my potential to the fullest.

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