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Without

geography
youre
nowhere.
Jimmy Buffett

The nature of geography

INQUIRY qu e s t ion s

What is geography?
What are the features of the physical

andhuman environments?
How do the physical and human
environments interact?

Geography is all around us in the air we


breathe, the sun that shines on us, the soil
and water that nourish us, and the plants and
animals who share our Earth. Geography is
also concerned with how humans use and
interact with environments to meet their
needs. Today, when technology gives us
instant access to global events, geography
can help us make sense of our world and
consider important issues from different
perspectives. With the help of geographical
inquiry, we can participate as informed
citizens to help build a sustainable and
socially just world.

Gathering geographical information from the

internet(page 15)

Geoactive 1

Physical and human elements of the environment


come together at the Gold Coast in Queensland.

ke y terms
atlas: a book containing maps and information about
places on the Earth
atmosphere: the thin, fragile layer of gases that
surrounds the Earth
biosphere: living matter on Earth, including all plants
and animals
built environment: any human addition to the land
surface
commercial agriculture: type of farming that produces
a surplus of products that can be sold
conservation: the protection of the environment from
destructive influences
contour line: line drawn on a map joining places of
equalheight above sea level
desertification: the process by which useful
agriculturalareas on desert fringes change into desert
due to poor farming practices
drought: a period of below average precipitation
ecosystem: a system formed by the interactions of
theliving organisms (plants, animals and humans)
andphysical elements of an environment
endangered: in danger of extinction
environment: the surroundings of living and
non-living things
extinct: animal or plant species that have died out
GIS (Geographic Information Systems): a set of
computer programs designed to deal with databases
that are able to collect, store, retrieve, manipulate,
analyse and display mapped data from the real world
global scale: the whole world
habitat: the natural home of an animal or a plant, the
place where it is normally found
human elements of environments: any part of
environments that have been built or altered by people
hydrosphere: the water on the surface of the Earth in
oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, rain and mist
lithosphere: the Earths crust, including landforms,
rocks and soil
local scale: the immediate neighbourhood
location: where something is found on the Earths
surface
map: a simplified plan of a place seen directly from above
perspective: a way of viewing the world
physical elements of environments: all those things
that occur naturally in an area, for example, air, water,
soil, flora and fauna
settlement: a group of people living in one place or
location
spatial: how things are spread out over an area
subsistence agriculture: the growing of products
mainly for consumption by the farmer and the
farmersdependants

1.1

Geography at work and play

Geography is a serious study and, yet, knowledge of


it can alsohelp you have fun! It may surprise you
just how often geography matters in a whole range of
fun activities. To participate fullyin these activities,
ithelps to know about the air (atmosphere), water
(hydrosphere), soil and landforms(lithosphere),
and plants and animals (biosphere).

Geography can teach


about coastal landforms,
waves and winds so that
you can get the most out
of windsurfing at Maui,
inHawaii.

Geography can teach about


natural landforms suchas
mountains so that youcan
understand gradients and
slopes when abseiling
inSwaziland.

Geography can teach about animals and their


habitatsso that you can get the most out of travelling
on safariin Kruger National Park in Africa.

Geography can teach about weather, wind


speedand wind direction so that you know
whento go hang gliding in California, in the USA.

Geospatial technologies like Google Earth allow geographers to


recognise patterns of interaction between physical and human
elements.

Geoactive 1

A geographers tools
You have probably noticed that many jobs require tools to helppeople
do their work. Builders use spirit levels and computer drawing software,
doctors use stethoscopes and ultrasound machines, journalists use
cameras and digital editing tools. Geographers use tools such asmaps,
photographs, graphs and
statistics, fieldwork studies
CHINA
2800N
7000
and spatial technology
41
0
800
such as GIS (Geographic
40
6000
Information Systems)
Mt Everest 8848 m
We
and Google Earth.
st C
w
39
38

South Col Camp IV


7986 m

70

5000

76

International border
6000
Climb to Everest
Mountain peak
Contour (interval 200 metres)
0
Glacier
77

78

79

Khumbu
glacier

Base Camp
5340 m

Fish species, Great Barrier Reef, 20002008

No. of fish species

600
500
400
300
200
100
2002

81

82

2 km
83

Thinking and applying


1 What fun outdoor activities do you enjoy? What
elements of the air, water, land, plants and animals
are involved in these activities?
2 Design a collage of images of world sports that are
linked to geography.
3 Think of a recent world event and brainstorm how
geography could help to explain it.

Camp II
6500 m
Western
cwm
Camp I
6100 m

0
2000

80

activities

Camp III
7400 m

Fieldwork (below)
is vitalfor the
collection of data
(right) to map,
measure, observe
and record the
realworld.

Lhotse 8516 m

Lhotse Shar 8400 m

00

35

00

70

00

NEPAL

36

Lhotse
8516 m
Southwest
face

er

Nuptse 7879 m

37

Everest 8848 m

West ridge
of Everest

laci

80

Topographic maps (right) are


an essential tool for climbing
MtEverest (below).

mG

Satellite images (above) and weather maps


helped in the rescue of survivors after the
capsizing of yachts during the Sydney to
Hobart Yacht Race in 1998 (below).

2004
Year

2006

2008

Ge ot e r m s
atmosphere: the thin, fragile layer of gases that
surrounds the Earth
biosphere: living matter on Earth, including all plants
and animals
GIS (Geographic Information Systems): a set of
computer programs designed to deal with databases
that are able to collect, store, retrieve, manipulate,
analyse and display mapped data from the real world
habitat: the natural home of an animal or a plant, the
place where it is normally found
hydrosphere: the water on the surface of the Earth in
oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, rain and mist
lithosphere: the Earths crust, including landforms,
rocks and soil
map: a simplified plan of a place seen directly from
above
spatial: how things are spread out over an area

Chapter 1 | The nature of geography

1.2

Geographers investigate
theworld

Geographers are curious people. Their curiosity


leads to them asking endless questions such as:
Whyare pandas disappearing? What is climate
change? Why do volcanoes erupt? Why should
we recycle waste? What problems do large cities
create? How can we make sure everyone has
access to safe water? Geographers use problemsolving skills and tools to answer key geographical
questions about issues from a local scale (in
the immediate neighbourhood) to a global scale
(affecting the whole world).

Geographical skills include:


locating, gathering and evaluating information
from a variety of local sources. Sources include
fieldwork, maps, photographs, books, the media
and the internet.
observing and analysing information
choosing and applying appropriate geographical
tools
presenting and communicating information
toothers
participating as informed and active citizens.
Geographical tools include:
maps
fieldwork
graphs and statistics
photographs.

Perspectives and citizenship

A geographer will ask, Why are pandas disappearing?.

1. What is the geographical issue?

2. Where is it happening?

?
3. Why is it happening?

Key geographical questions

Geoactive 1

4. What are the effects?

A perspective is a way of viewing the world,the


people in it, their relationship to each other,and
their relationship to communities and environments.
Geography students are asked to imagine what
it would be like to see, think, feel or even walk in
another persons shoes when they study issues.
For example, the photograph opposite shows a
child paddling in a river where people bathe, wash
clothes, dispose of garbage and urinate and defecate.
The local community then drinks this water, which
leads to water-borne diseases such as cholera. From
one perspective, Australians who have access to a
toilet and clean water may be horrified. On the other
hand, millions of poor children, living in developing
countries without access to a toilet or clean water,

??

5. What action(s) is appropriate?


(Citizenship)

6. Who will be involved individuals,


groups, non-government organisations,
governments?

7. Why has active citizenship made


a difference? If not, why not?

1. What is the issue?


2.6billion people, or
40per cent of the
worlds population, do
not have access to
adequate sanitation.

2. Where is it happening? In
many developing countries such
as Indonesia, Nepal and India
3. Why is it happening? Poor
governments do not have the
money to build a sewerage
system and provide clean
drinking water. Poor people
cannot afford to pay for
toilets and clean water.

7. Why has this made a


difference? The contribution
of people and money from
developed countries in
partnership with local
organisations in developing
countries has led to access
to improved sanitation for
1.2billion people.
6. Who will be involved? United Nations
International Year of Sanitation 2008, nongovernment organisations (e.g. World Vision),
AusAID, governments and volunteers.

4. What are the effects? The health of


people is affected: low life expectancy, high
infant mortality rate, sickness and death
from cholera, typhoid anddysentery.

Key geographical questions about


access to clean water

have no choice but to perform all these actions


in the source of the local drinking water. Their
perspective is different.
After studying this issue, one of the key
geographical questions might require students to
suggest what action(s) they as citizens could take to
make a better life for this child. These actions could
range from a local to a global scale. For example, at
a global level, a citizen could become a volunteer for
AusAID on a project that provides toilets and fresh
water to poor people living in developing countries.

A study of geography is
of value in many careers.
These include doctors working with patients
suffering HIV/AIDS in Asia, engineers building roads
in Africa, diplomats working in the Middle East,
journalists reporting news from Fiji and defence
people working in Afghanistan. People employed
as traffic engineers, park rangers, farmers,
miners, real estate agents, conservationists, land
developers, energy planners, market researchers,
builders and marine biologists are also likely to have
qualifications in geography.
Many geographers are employed in the tourism
industry and in emergency services when there
are floods, fires, cyclones or landslides. Others are
employed as meteorologists tracking cyclones,
vulcanologists researching volcanoes and
seismologists monitoring earthquakes. An increasing
number are employed by the United Nations
and AusAID to help reduce poverty in developing
countries, and in businesses and governments for
their Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills.

5. What actions are appropriate? Access to


basic sanitation is part of the UN Millennium
Development Goals (20002015).

At a local level, a citizen could donate money to a


non-government organisation such asWorld Vision.

activities
Understanding
1 What are the key geographical questions? Draw
your own mind map to display them.
2 List the main factors that might influence the
perspectives people have.
3 What is meant by local to global citizenship?
Giveexamples of issues in your local community.
What actions could you take on these issues as
acitizen of the community?
4 Name two types of geographical tools.
Thinking and applying
5 Briefly describe how studying geography and
asking geographical questions could help people
to participate in society as active and informed
citizens.
6 Referring to the internet, newspapers or TV, find
and list five global geographical issues. Choose one
issue and answer the key geographical questions
used in the mind map on page 6 as a guide.

Ge ot e r m s
global scale: the whole world
local scale: the immediate neighbourhood
perspective: a way of viewing the world

Chapter 1 | The nature of geography

1.3

Geographers use atlases

An atlas is a book containing maps and information


about places on Earth. Most atlases also contain
photographs, diagrams and graphs. Geographers
frequently use an atlas to find detailed information
about places. When you use an atlas, there are three
different ways you can find places and information:
1.From the list of contents at the front the
contents page is a list of the maps that are found
in the atlas. It will help you locate broad areas
such as continents or groups of countries.
2.From the index at the back the index lists in
alphabetical order all the countries, towns and
cities, and other features found on the maps. The
index tells you the page number for the map and
the location on the map where you will find the
place name you areseeking.

3.From the maps themselves and from other visual


material in the atlas.
There are different types of maps in an atlas
because they have a variety of purposes. There are
four main types of maps:
physical

political
topographic
thematic maps.

Physical maps
These maps show the physical landforms of a
region, including patterns of mountain ranges,
rivers and other physical features. Political
boundaries are often not shown on physical maps.
Variation in colour and shading are used to show
height above sea level.

90W

80W

Physical map extract of


North America

La

Long Island

Rive

Illin

ois

River

ke

70W

ie
Er

Poto
m

r
ve
Ri

40N

ac

Rive

Ri
ve
r

Chesapeake Bay

Ohio

N
AI
NT

IA
AC
H
PA
L
AP

see

ig
Tomb

Onslow Bay

Sa
va
n

Ri
ve
r

Cape Fear

Long Bay

A T L A N T I C

er
Riv

bee

River

Alabam

Riv
er

na

attahooch
e
Ch

Rive

Great Smoky
Mountains NP

er
Riv

Tenne
s

Pamlico Sound

De

Kentucky
Lake

Lake Texoma

Cape
Hatteras

Mt Mitchell
2037 m

Pee

Lake
Barkley

Bull Shoals
Lake

Mammoth Cave NP

Pearl

O C E A N

er
Riv

Trinity

er
Riv
Apalachee
Bay

30N

Cape Canaveral

River

N
0

150

300

450

600 km

Grand
Bahama

Lake Okeechobee

Gulf

of

Mexico

Lake

Island

Wetland

Everglades NP
Mt Taylor Mountain
3471 m Cape Sable
a

rid

4000

Geoactive 1

2000

1000

500

200

0 Land below 0
sea level

200

2000

4000

Andros
New Providence
World Heritage
national park

Flo

Height
in metres

Eleuthera

McAllen
River

Great Abaco

8000

y
Ke

South Andros
Depth
in metres

Great Exuma

Cat

San
Salvador
Rum Cay
Long

Acklins

Political maps

activities

These are maps that show different political regions


in a different colour, with their borders marked by
lines. The most common political maps are world
maps and continent maps showing countries.
Lisbon

PORTUGAL

SPAIN

GREECE Country
T U Rborder
K E Y
Tunis
Athens
Country name
N I G E R CYPRUS
Algiers
SYRIA
TUNISIA Canary Is (Sp.) Nicosia
Dependency
Tripoli
Disputed JORDAN
border
Cairo

Madeira Is
Rabat
(Port.)
M O R O C C O
30N
Canary Is (Sp.)
A L G E R I A
Western
Sahara
Tropic of Cancer

L I B YA
E G Y P T

Ac

cr
Lo a
m
e

MAURITANIA
CAPE
Nouakchott M A L I N I G E R
VERDE
ERITREA
Asmara
Praia
C H A D Khartoum
Dakar SENEGAL
BURKINA Niamey
S U DA N
Banjul GAMBIA
FASO
Bissau
NDjamena
DJIBOUTI
Bamako Ouagadougou
GUINEA BISSAU
Conakry GUINEA GHANABENIN NIGERIA
Freetown Yamoussoukro TOGO Abuja
CENTRAL
Addis Ababa
SIERRA LEONE
AFRICAN
Porto-Novo
IVORY
Monrovia
REPUBLIC
ETHIOPIA
CAMEROON
LIBERIA COAST
Bangui
Malabo
Yaounde DEMOCRATIC UGANDA
EQUATORIAL GUINEA
REPUBLIC
Kampala
Equator
Libreville OF
CONGO
SAO TOME
0
KENYA
GABON
AND
PRINCIPE
RWANDA
N
Nairobi
CONGO Bujumbura Kigali
BURUNDI
Brazzaville Kinshasa
Dodoma
TANZANIA
0
500
1000 1500 2000 km Luanda
ZAMBIA
A N G O L A
0

Understanding
1 What is an atlas?
2 Describe the ways in which you can find
information in an atlas.
3 List the four main types of maps found in an atlas.
Thinking and applying
4 Refer to the political map of Africa.
a How can you tell one country from another?
b Why cant you see the Sahara Desert on this
map?
5 Refer to the physical map of North America.
a Why cant you find Washington DC on this map?
b List three physical features marked on the map.
6 Refer to the map of agriculture in South America.
Identify the four main types of farming. How did
youdo this?
7 What type of map is the one below? Explain
howyou reached this conclusion.
N

30E

BEIJING
TIANJIN

Topographic maps
These maps show relief or height above sea level
using contour lines. They also show physical
features such as forests, rivers and lakes, and
cultural features such as roads, railways and
settlements. This type of map is useful for
bushwalking, planning roads and checking the
steepness of slopes. You can see examples of
topographic maps on pages 97 and 101.

SHANGHAI
CHONGQING
Concentration of total suspended
particulate matter (percentage tsp)
Very high (greater than 0.3 tsp)
High (0.2 to 0.3 tsp)

GUANGZHOU
HONG KONG
(XIANGGANG)

Medium (0.08 to 0.19 tsp)


Low (less than 0.08 tsp)
Cities over 5 000 000 people

Air pollution in China

Using your skills


8 Use an atlas to answer the following questions.
a On what page would you find a map of China?
b On what page would you find the city of Rome?
c Find an example of each of the four main types
of maps.
d Find an example of non-map material.

Thematic maps

1000

Ge ot e r m s

2000 km

Grain farming
Horticulture and
vineyards
Plantation farming
Sedentary
cultivation
Shifting cultivation

Agriculture in
South America

800 km
SHENYANG

Political map extract of Africa

A wide range of
themes can be
shown in map
form, such as how
temperature,
agriculture
or incomes
varyover
0
anarea.

400

Dairy farming

Commercial crop and


livestock farming
Subsistence crop and
livestock farming
Little or no agriculture

atlas: a book containing maps and information about


places on the Earth
contour line: line drawn on a map joining places of
equal height above sea level
settlement: a group of people usually living in one
place orlocation

Livestock farming

Chapter 1 | The nature of geography

1.4

Geographers study
environments
Seabird

The environment is the surroundings of living


andnon-living things. Environments consist of
three aspects:
physical elements of environments
human elements of environments
interaction of the physical and human
elementsofenvironments.
The physical elements of environments are all
thosethings that occur naturally in an area, for
example: air, flora and fauna, soil, solar energy
andwater.
The human elements of environments are any
part of environments that have been built or altered
by people such as houses, farms, factories, roads
and towns. Human additions to the land surface are
referred to as the built environment.

Ecosystems and food webs


An ecosystem is a system formed by the interaction
of living things (plants, animals and humans) and

Small fish

Large
fish

Microscopic
organisms

Crab

Shark

Mussel
Worm

Algae

A simplified coastal food web, containing many food chains


physical elements of environments. Theenergy
from the sun enables all living things togrow in the
ecosystem. Complex patterns called food chains
(who eats who) and food webs (when food chains
interlock) are formed within ecosystems.

Air is a mixture of gases, mainly nitrogen, oxygen and


water vapour. Most of the air is in the atmosphere.
Solar energy is energy in the form of heat and light
from the sun. Solar energy makes all life possible.
Soil consists of fine rock particles
and organic material on theEarths
surface. It is the part of the
Earthssurface in which plants
grow. Soils form a part of
the lithosphere.

Physical elements of environments

10

Geoactive 1

Flora are plants of a particular area, while fauna


are the animals of a particular area. Flora and
fauna are parts of the biosphere.

Water is a common substance that is essential to all known forms of life. Water exists
in three forms: a solid (as ice); a liquid (as water); and a gas (as water vapour). Water is
probably humankinds single most important resource. All life depends on water: animals
need it for drinking and it is essential for plants to grow. Most water is in the hydrosphere.

Agriculture involves
growing crops and tending
livestock for either
subsistence or commercial
purposes. Subsistence
agriculture produces enough
food to satisfy the needs of
the family, while commercial
agriculture aims to produce
a surplus that can be sold.

activities

Settlementsare
groups ofpeople,
usually livingin one
place or location.
Settlements can be
small or large, such
as villages, towns
and cities. Nomadic
peoples who move
around can still be
regarded as living
in settlement.

Industrial elements consist of manufacturing


or the making of articles. Manufacturing can
be small scale, such as an individual pottery
industry, or large scale such as a steelworks.

Human elements of
the environment

Economic elements
are widespread
within human
environments. They
are involved with the
production, exchange
and consumption of
goods and services,
and the means of
exchange, which is
normally money.
Sociocultural
elements are the
way people organise
themselves around
their beliefs,
language, customs,
buildings, art, music
and literature. These
elements are the
characteristics of
the way people live
their lives.

Political elements are mainly


concerned with government.
These elements include how
a place is governed and the
political buildings. It could be a
meeting place in a village or the
White House in Washington.

Understanding
1 Match the element from the list below
with the example.
Elements: air, flora, fauna, soil, solar
energy, agriculture, settlement,
industrial, water, political, sociocultural
a a group of people living in one place
orlocation
b energy emitted from the sun
c a cottage industry making lavender
soaps
d Parliament House in Canberra
e a map showing the distribution of the
main languages of the world
f a ploughed paddock
g a mixture of gases
h a camel
i a forest
j a wheat farm
k a lake
2 Define an ecosystem.
Thinking and applying
3 Explain the statement: All life depends
onwater.
4 Imagine a huge black cloud covering the
sun and cutting off all incoming solar
energy. Describe what would happen to:
a the physical environment
b the human environment.
5 Picture your walk home from school.
Briefly describe all of the elements
ofthehuman environment that you will
see. Have these elements changed over
the last five years? If so, how have they
changed?

Ge ot e r m s
built environment: any human addition to
the land surface
ecosystem: a system formed by the
interactions of the living organisms (plants,
animals and humans) and physical
elements of an environment
environment: the surroundings of living
and non-living things
human elements of environments: any
part of environments that have been built or
altered by people
physical elements of environments: all
those things that occur naturally in an area,
for example, air, water, soil, flora and fauna

Chapter 1 | The nature of geography

11

1.5

Interaction of physical and


human environments

Humanphysical interactions involve the way people


depend on, adapt to, or change their environments.
Everything we do as humans interacts with the
elements of the physical environment. As well,
both the physical environment and the human
environment are constantly undergoing changes.
Some of these changes are natural and some are
caused by the actions of people.

Rising populations
For most of the time that humans have been on
Earth their numbers have been small. As recently
as10000 years ago, the global human population
was probably only about one-thousandth of its
present size. Humans were primarily hunters and
gatherers and, apart from their use of fire, had
littleimpact on the environment.
Today, the worlds population is over sixbillion
and many of its environments have been
transformed. Vast areas of the natural environment
have been cleared to provide food and raw
materials. Urban areas are getting bigger.
The physical elementsofenvironments
provide people with resourcessuch
as coal, oil, timber and minerals.
Exploitation of these resources
has led toeconomic development
and improvedthe quality of
life formanypeople. But at the
same timeoverconsumption
and misuseofthese resources
has causedproblems such as
water pollution,soil degradation
anddesertification.
Although the power of humans
to changetheir environment has
Desertification increases when vegetation
is lost due to land clearing and overgrazing
by animals. When droughts occur and
there is not enough vegetation to bind the
soil, wind and water can cause large-scale
erosion. Dust storms remove topsoil. When
rain does fall, rapid run-off causes flooding
and erosion.
As waves attack the coastline, coastal
erosion can occur. Houses and roads built
on cliff tops can collapse into the sea.

12

Geoactive 1

increased dramatically, people must still cope


with a wide range ofeffectsfrom their physical
environment. Crops can be destroyed by drought,
beaches savagely eroded by storms, towns drowned
by floods, lives and forests lost through bushfires
and buildings destroyedbyearthquakes.
There are two main types of volcanic
eruption those that produce flowing
lava such as this one, and those
that produce ash. Both types of
eruptioncan destroy
huge areas.

An earthquake has created this


crack or fissure in the Earths
surface. Earthquakes occur when
stress builds up in the Earths
crust and is suddenly released.

activities
Understanding
1 Study the scene on these pages and decide where
you think the safest place to live would be.
2 Why have vast areas of the Earths physical
environments been cleared?
3 Outline some adverse effects the physical
environment can have on the human environment.
Thinking and applying
4 Study the scene on these pages. Choose any
threeevents and describe their effects on the
human and physical environment. Would it have
been possible to prevent any of these events
fromoccurring?
5 Discuss as a class how physical elements such
asthe soil, plants, animals, air and water of your
local area have been changed by humans.

Strong winds, torrential rain and high waves caused by


tropical cyclones or storms can devastate towns and cities
on the coast. Tornadoes present one of the greatest dangers
to communities from the atmosphere. Winds of up to
400kilometres an hour can be generated by a tornado.

Heavy rainfall, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can


all trigger landslides. Clearing forests from steep hillsides
increases the risk of landslides. When rain falls on a
forested hillside, trees protect the soil. The roots hold
the soil and absorb water, reducing erosion,
run-off and landslides.

Lightning is a release
ofelectricity from storm
clouds to the Earth.
A bushfire has been started by a natural
event a lightning strike. (Some bushfires,
though, are started by arsonists.)
Bushfires are a common occurrence
not only in Australia, but also in parts
oftheUnited States and Europe.

Heavy rain in the


mountains can cause rivers
to flood low-lying areas.

A tsunami is a large wave. Tsunamis are usually


created when an earthquake occurs under the ocean.

Ge ot e r m s
desertification: the process by which useful
agricultural areas on desert fringes change into desert
due to poor farming practices
drought: a period of below average precipitation

Chapter 1 | The nature of geography

13

1.6

Case study: precious pandas

The physical environment is greatly affected by the


human environment. The impact of people on the
physical environment, for example, its flora and
fauna, is enormous. In the following case study, it
can be seen how human activities have reduced the
habitat of pandas and, as a result, reduced their
numbers in the wild.

Distribution of the panda


Distribution of the panda
two million years ago
Distribution of the panda
today

NORTH
KOREA
SOUTH
KOREA

River

Hwang
Yangtz
e

Riv
er

40N

MONGOLIA

NEPAL

es

ng

Ga

River

er

nc
of Ca
Tropic
TAIWAN

BHUTAN

Xi

BANGLADESH
I N D I A

EAST
CHINA
SEA

River

20N

MYANMAR
LAOS
THAILAND

CAMBODIA
VIETNAM

600

1200 km

100E

Female pandas have difficulty


becoming pregnant and giving
birth. A female may
give birth to three
cubs, but she will
reject two of them.

SOUTH
CHINA
SEA

PHILIPPINES

120E

Why are pandas precious?


Pandas have existed in eastern and southern China
for about three million years and have been called
a living fossil. The World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) uses the panda as its international symbol
to represent endangered animals. Scientists fear
that pandas could soon become extinct. This means
that your children or grandchildren might never
have the opportunity to see one.
There are only about 1500 giant pandas
remaining in the pandas wild forest habitat in
the mountainous areas ofsouth-western China.
On average, a giant panda will eat 3480 stems or
20kilograms of bamboo shoots each day. It spends
between 50 and 75per cent of each day eating.

How humans have affected


panda habitats
Giant pandas live in bamboo thickets. These
thickets have been severely reduced by activities of
the human environment such as logging and forest

Distribution of the panda two million years ago and today

Some scientists say pandas are in


natural decline. Pandas once ate
animals and plants. But today they
eat mainly bamboo as they have
poor eyesight and lack the speed to
hunt prey. Pandas have also become
less agile. This means their natural
predators (leopards, brown bears)
can kill them more easily.

Between 60 and 70 per cent of all


pandas suffer from roundworm
disease. This slows down growth
and reproduction. It can also kill
pandas.

Other reasons for the


decline in giant panda numbers

14

Geoactive 1

clearance for agriculture. Cattle, sheep and goats


now graze on new bamboo seedlings. This prevents
the regrowth of the forest. In the last 30years,
Sichuan Province in China has lost one-third of
its forest. Many giant panda populations arenow
isolated in narrow belts of bamboo. These are
sometimes no more than one kilometre wide.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, many giant
pandas died following the flowering and deathof
arrow bamboo shoots over wide areas. This
natural event occurs at intervals of between 30
and 120years (depending on the type of bamboo).
Whenthis happened in the past, giant pandas
migrated to otherareas with different species of
bamboo. Now, human settlement prevents such
migration.
Hunting giant pandas is illegal but poaching
is still a problem. Their pelts are used to make
mattresses and coats, bringing high prices in some
Asian markets. Sometimes they are caught in traps
set by poachers for musk deer, another endangered
species in China.

activities
Understanding
1 Where do giant pandas live?
2 Approximately how many giant pandas live in their
natural habitat?
3 Why have pandas been described as living
fossils?

Gathering geographical information from


theinternet
A wide selection of geographical information can be
sourced from websites. When gathering information
from websites, it is important to be critical about their
accuracy and reliability. Many websites have accurate
and up-to-date information, while others can be biased,
inaccurate and out of date.
Questions to ask when using the internet are:
1. Who is responsible for the website? Is it:
the government
an educational institution
a business or some other organisation
a private individual?
2. How reliable is the information?
Are there any indications of bias (one-sided
opinion) or exaggeration?
How current is the information?
Can it be verified from another source?
3. How relevant is the information?
Does it help answer the questions you are asking?
Can you use it in your work or study?
Imagine you would like some information about
conservation actions to protect the giant panda. The
following is an extract from the internet site of the
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). It was accessed by
using a popular search engine. First, we entered the
words conservation of pandas. After trying several
sites, we chose WWF, deciding that it satisfied the
above three criteria.

Thinking and applying


4 Do you agree that pandas are precious? Justify
your answer.
5 Using the map of panda distribution, describe the
distribution of pandas in China today compared
totwo million years ago.
6 Describe how activities from the human
environment have reduced the number of giant
panda habitats.
7 What natural factors may be contributing to
pandadecline?
Using your skills
8 Apply the questions from the Geoskills Toolbox to
the WWF website on pandas. How well does the
website meet the criteria?
9 Think of another question that you have about
giant pandas, and then use your favourite search
engine to find an answer on a website that meets
the criteria. Why do you believe this is a useful
website?

Ge ot e r m s
conservation: the protection of the environment from
destructive influences
endangered: in danger of extinction
extinct: animal or plant species that have died out

Chapter 1 | The nature of geography

15

eBook plus

ICT activities

eLesson
Geography careers
Geography is the study of the Earth
and how humans interact with
their environment. This introductory
eLesson immerses you in the world
of geography and the people
involved in the study of our physical
environment. What do geographers
do? What kind of tools do they
use? What kind of work is there for
geographers? Watch a series of
case studies and discover all this
and more!
SEARCHLIGHT ID: ELES-0160

Interactivity
Jigzone: world
This interactive Jigzone game
will test your knowledge of
the locations of the worlds
landforms. You must drag
and drop the landforms to
their correct positions in the
world outline. Be careful
because any wrong move
you make willgive your
enemy more power. You
must complete the map of
the world and make sure
your enemy doesnt end up
with more points than you.
SEARCHLIGHT ID: INT-0966

16

Geoactive 1

These ICT activities are available in this chapters


Student Resources tab inside your eBookPLUS. Visit
www.jacplus.com.au to locate your digital resources.

Interactivity
Hotspot Commander:
world landforms
Hotspot Commander challenges
your geographical skills and
knowledge in a fun questionand-answer format. You will
receive the coordinates of a
location. When you hit your
target accurately, you will be
given some secret information
and a question to answer. Get
it right and part of the mystery
image is revealed. Can you
conquer all 10locations and
become a Hotspot Commander?
SEARCHLIGHT ID: INT-0967

Interactivity
Time Out:
physicaland human
environments
This exciting interactivity will
test your knowledge of different
environments, challenging you
to classify a series of scenes
as either physical or human
environments. You must think
hard and fast because the clock
is ticking and any wrong answer
will lose you time; but get them
right and youll get a bonus
chunk. Can you answer all
10questions before Time Out?
SEARCHLIGHT ID: INT-0927

Chapter 1 | The nature of geography

17