|Environmental Activities for People who Use English as a Foreign Language (Peace Corps, 1994, 118 p.)|
LAND USE PLANNING UNIT
All communities deal with land planning issues. However, the Central and Eastern European countries are particularly affected because until recently the State owned most of the land. Many of these countries are now dealing with privatization. Some of the land is being returned to its former owners (before Communism). These people are often now elderly or no longer have an interest in the land. In the past families often had their own small farms with a few animals. These farms became part of large state collectives. The "farmers" of these cooperatives often knew little or nothing about farming practices and did not care to learn because for these workers, farming was only a job. This has left most of these countries without people who care about the land or feel a responsibility to learn.
Land use planning involves every aspect of our lives whether we live in a town or in the country, or for that matter anyplace on the globe. We need to think creatively about where to place industry, commerce, homes, open land for recreation, agriculture, transportation systems (road, airports and railroad lines), institutions (like schools and libraries), services (like water treatment plants) and where to leave natural areas. It is a very complex task to locate all that is necessary for humans and yet to respect the integrity of the land, for instance: are we contaminating our water supplies; cutting down our forests; destroying our wetlands; polluting our lands with chemicals and waste; putting roads over our most fertile farmlands; bulldozing the rolling hills into flatness; excavating our minerals and/or destroying the environment?
Every human has impacted the land's natural resources and in turn the land's resources has effected every human activity. We are One, bound inseparably from the earth upon which we exist. We are totally dependent on the limited natural resources of our world and so we must carefully think about and learn to plan on how to sustain future life on our planet. What kind of legacy did the past generations leave us and what kind of conditions do we want to leave the future generations?
Rationale - To raise environmental awareness about land use.
Introduce the topic of land use and if appropriate mention some of the above ideas. Have the students read aloud the article (SEE END OF UNIT) about the state of affairs in the former Czechoslovakia regarding the loss of five million tons of topsoil every year. In other countries similar information is available from the government, officials, newspapers and other sources about their own particular agricultural problem. Read and discuss the ideas.
Rationale - To understand how topsoil is created.
AT THE BACK OF THE UNIT is a story about the creation of topsoil. Have the group read out loud and discuss the ideas. At the end of the story explain (as thought by a number of traditional peoples) that rocks are actually alive. Further, explain that when rocks actually become soil, their minerals are absorbed by our crops and enable them to grow. We, in turn, eat the crops and absorb their minerals. They become part of our body. Therefore the rocks become part of us and that is how they are alive. All of nature is somehow connected and we call this interrelationship "ecology."
Rationale - To examine agricultural practices.
Have the group read the article about agricultural practices and answer the question. (SEE END OF UNIT). Discuss farming practices in their country. You do not need to know much about this area as the group members will have some knowledge about the subject (SEE SUGGESTIONS BELOW).
1. Rotate crops yearly because different plants utilize different nutrients from the soil.
2. Plant a "cover" crop. This means that the soil should not be bare during the winter after the harvest. Bare soil erodes from water and wind. Also farmers should choose a cover crop that will put nutrition back into the soil like legumes.
3. Trees or bushes should be planted between fields as a wind barrier to stop wind erosion.
4. On hills, ploughing should be done horizontally, not vertically, in order to atop water erosion.
5. Rows of plants should be made in curving lines (as the article mentions), especially in flat areas, as a protection against wind and water erosion.
6. Organic fertilizers (manures, old plants and compost) should be used instead of inorganic, chemical fertilizers that do not add nutrition or body to the soil like the others do.
7. Pesticides should be used very sparingly and specific ones for specific pest problems. If possible use natural methods like planting crops close to each other that help one another fight off certain pests or use natural predators.
Rationale - To understand how past traditions in a culture affected land use.
Ask group members to bring in some object from the past that they consider valuable. Each member of the group shows the "treasure'' and tells about it. The group leader can then lead the discussion into the past and its lifestyle (usually it will focus on agrarian lifestyles). The discussion can lead to the differences between the present member's environment and his or her grandparent's and great-grandparent's lives. It should be pointed out that there can be no separation of the culture and traditions of the people and land use, whether it is in the city or country. (FOR SUGGESTIONS SEE BELOW.)
1. Some old cooking utensil can lead to a group discussion about cooking methods, fuels that were used (wood, coal, and etc.) and how this effected the land. Were all the forests cut down for fuel? Is there mining in the area? How did this affect the landscape? Also traditional foods can be discussed. What kind of crops and animals were used to feed families? How did cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, etc. affect the land? Talk about traditional farming methods (also this can be done with tools).
2. Working tools can lead to discussions about what kinds of Jobs were there. How did this affect the land? As mentioned,, mining and farming, or working in factories, and etc., all directly or indirectly, impacted the land.
3. Some group members may bring in books. What topics were important to the people and how did it reflect the times? Were people mostly illiterate and did this matter? Were the jobs mainly farming or assembly Jobs in a factory where maybe reading and writing was not so important? How did this affect people's attitudes toward their environment?
4. Religious objects ore often brought in for the group to see. A discussion can follow about how religious attitudes have affected attitudes toward the environment. One example is the Judaic-Christian outlook that nature is to be used by humans because they are the most superior creations of God. Let the group members think about how past religious or lack of religious views shaped attitudes toward the environment.
5. Musical instruments are interesting. The group can discuss what types of dances and songs were typical for their fore father's and bother's. What were the themes? Why did people need to express these ideas or activities in their songs or dances? What type of costumes did they wear? What materials were used and who made them? Again these all can relate to customs and traditions that affected the land.
6. Clothes are often considered a "keepsake." This can lead to similar questions about materials as costumes did above, and who made them? If clothes are leather, what type and where did it come from? If it is linen or some type of cloth, was it a local textile and again how did this effect the land? Maybe it was produced in a textile factory. In this case, discuss factories and their incredible effect on the people and their environment.
These are only a few suggestions but they can be almost limitless because every activity that humans do impacts their environment and the land that they live upon.
Rationale - To interview the elderly about activities in the past that impacted the land.
Have each group member interview an elderly person orally, by taking notes or by tape recording them. Ask the elderly person about how the environment was different for them or their great-grandparents, grandparents or parents than from the present. For instance, if they lived in a village, did they own animals or farm? This can be followed with questions about their specific activities. If they lived in a town, what kind of work was done and how did this effect their lives and environment? Was there much traffic? Discuss transportation changes and how it has affected their environment. Did the rivers, lakes and etc. freeze in the winter or was there more snow? (If it is different now, could it be from the greenhouse effect or pollution?) Does the elderly person remember various sources of energy that was used, for instance, like water power from mills? For further questions you can refer to SUGGESTIONS IN ACTIVITY 4.
The interviews should not be more than about 10 minutes in length. When the group meets again, everyone can orally present the most important parts of their interview (paraphrasing). The presenter and the group can discuss some of the changes in the environment that have occurred from the elderly person's memories of the past and the group's perception of the present.
Rationale - To link everyday human activities and their relationship to the land.
Each person can list five specific activities that they do in their own lives - either things they like to do or have to do. Pair up the individuals and have them discuss how each of their activities impact the land. Have each pair pick a few of their activities (the number of activities will depend on the time and interest of the group) and present them to the class. Have them explain how these activities impact the land.
The main point of Activity 6 is that the leader should emphasize that oven the smallest human activity is related to the land and has its effect. For "good or bad," humans have always impacted the land by their very existence as a species, and in turn, the land has always shaped the peoples' lives.
1. Taking care of bodily functions - For example, if an individual washes themselves everyday, the group can discuss water sources. Where coos their water come from and where does the wastewater go?
2. Job related - For example, if they work at a computer, discuss the toxic effects of manufacturing computer components (use of CFCs which destroy the ozone layer) and how to dispose of them when they are old. If they work in a factory talk about the effects of a factory's omissions or discharges on the environment. You can discuss energy sources needed to produce something and where does that come from and what happens to the energy after it is used. Talk about what raw materials are needed to produce the item. As a leader you can relate land use to any job because some sort of energy, raw materials or technology must be used. (These must come from some source related to the land). Of course, if the individual works in agriculture, there is a direct link to the land.
3. Recreational activities - For example, outdoor recreational activities rely almost 100% on nature for weather or the terrain of the country. Indoor activities depend obviously on being done inside a building, which required materials to be built and maintained and some type of product needed for the activity (this, too, was made from raw materials). For instance, if a person likes to relax by reading, the group can discuss that this requires paper from trees and maybe artificial lighting, which comes from an energy source.
As mentioned in previous activities, there are almost limitless possibilities because every human activity impacts the land in some way.
Rationale - To develop skill in planning an "environmentally friendly" community.
1. Have everyone imagine his or her neighborhood in childhood. What was the most important places for him or her, when they were young. Have everyone draw a simple map of their neighborhood with "important" features for that person on it and label them. Have each one present their map and talk about what they chose to put on it. It could be houses, a school, rivers, mountains, agricultural fields, animals, roads, etc. How big an area did they choose to define as their neighborhood? Discuss what is important for each one and why does it have meaning for that person?
2. Have groups of two to four people think about the "perfect'' community design. Tell them that they will be discussing and drawing on a large piece of paper the community where they would like to live. Suggest that they think about the community's needs for industry, recreation, housing, farming and public services (buildings; such as, schools, hospitals, water treatment plants, incinerators and other services like transportation, etc.). It is important for them to think about a water supply for the citizens of the community. Tell them to place these things wherever, they think the best location is. When they are finished have them explain their communities and the reasons for the placement of things to the whole group. Ask them why they chose certain places for certain things?
Present to the group the idea of a planned community. Ask if they know about zoning laws and then discuss any that may be in their community. They may have none. The laws may be inadequate or not enforced. Suggest that there are zoning laws which specify where to place structures and which structures. The law could define specific areas for the development of industry, commerce, housing, recreation, roads or just allow for natural areas. Other areas should be zoned for public use, such as: water treatment plants, landfills and recycling stations, schools, hospitals, etc. A zoning law should protect the community's water source(s) by forbidding any nearby development, and from contamination from farms' fertilizers and pesticides by developing buffer zones between farmland and water sources.
Discuss that citizens must have a law that makes it possible to meet with government officials at a meeting before any project is begun, to hear about any plans and to allow for public input into the process, as to whether this project is needed by the community. A question to be asked is whether it will be done in the best possible manner with the least environmental empact? It is also important to know who makes the decisions about changes in their community and to feel like the citizens of the community can have some influence on this person(s) decision-making.
Have them return in their small groups to their map of a "perfect neighborhood" and see if they want to make any changes and why. Discuss these changes with the entire group.
Rationale - To analyze pictures of activities impacting the land.
Go through magazines and cut out large pictures of activities affecting the environment. Some of the pictures used in this activity can be: pictures of highway complexes and traffic, skiing areas, many shops or a marketplace, human crowds, landfill or incinerator, a scientist at work outdoors, a castle on top of a hill with agricultural fields around it, a man ploughing his fields using a horse team, various animals (endangered species), etc. Divide the group up into smaller groups of two or three. Either give or have these small groups choose one of the pictures. Have them write something about how these activities (in their picture) affect the land in the past, present or future. They can write in large print with magic markers on big paper so that the whole group can read it later. Have the small group members create a paragraph or so. Each member of the group writes one sentence and then the next person adds to it so that a group story is created. When everyone is finished, hang up a group's paper in front of the large group. Have each member of that particular group read his or her own sentence out loud to everyone until the whole story has been read by all the members of the small group. Ask for comments about the story itself from the large group after the story is read.
Rationale - To learn the democratic process of compromise in relationship to land use.
AT THE END OF THE UNIT is a fictional story called "Kilbasa National Park." The story is about representatives of special interest groups meeting to discuss the future of the park. Before leaving the meeting general agreement must be reached on how the land in Kilbasa National Park will be used and its future. Assign or have individuals pick a role. These include: Park Director, National Rock Climbing Association President, Chairperson for the Archeological Department of the National University, Mayor of Kilbasa, President and owner of Stay Healthy Drug Co., President of Fuelco and Chairperson of the National Outdoor Recreation Association, the largest outdoor recreation organization in the country. Read through the story with the group. Make sure that everyone understands it. Give them a few moments to prepare the position that they will take. The leader acts as the moderator and starts the meeting by asking who would like to present his/her viewpoint. If people are hesitant, begin with the Park Director. If people are reluctant to talk, have each person present their view. Then, the leader can ask the group, "How can this be worked out?" Remind them that in a democracy, everyone has a right and a responsiblity to be involved in the decision-making process. This activity points out the difficulties in determining land use, as well as developing skills in the democratic process
DRY LAND FARMING: AN ART AND A SCIENCE
Before modern farming methods, farmers lost many crops to dry weather. Sometimes dry periods lasted for many years. In those days, a long dry period, or drought, often turned the land to dust. Then winds came along and blew the good land away. This happened year after year.
Farmers didn't understand how to plant and so they made the situation worse. Each year they planted the same crops. They never gave the land a rest. The land became poor with too much use. They always planted in long, straight rows. They broke the land into fine dust. They never planted trees to break the strength of the wind.
The worst dry period was the drought of the 1930 's Good farmland on the Western Plains became a Dust Bowl. Farmers had a very hard lime until they started to use modern farming methods.
Now farmers plant a different crop every year. Some years they give part of their land a rest. The land stays healthy and rich. Modern farmers form rows in curving lines and plant trees to stop the wind. Modern crops are much larger and more dependable.
Dry land farming is both a science and an art. From the air, the farms look like pieces of modern art.
1. Why did farmers lose so many crops?
2. How did the drought change the land?
3. What did the wind do to the dust?
4. How long did the dry periods last?
5. How did farmers make the situation worse?
6. What happened on the Western Plains in the 1930 's?
7. What methods do modern farmers use?
Lichen (algae and fungi growing together) begin to grow on the rock. They secrete an acid that breaks down the surface of the rock.
Spores land on the Lichen and moss begins to grow.
Passing seeds land on the moss and use the moisture and soil to begin growing.
Plants grow and roots spread over the rock.
The rock cracks.
Water and snow freeze and expand in the crack, making the crack larger.
Plants grow down into the crack. Organic matter fills in the crack.
Larger plants and more weathering make the crack wider and eventually break the rock into two smaller pieces.
The story begins all over again on the two smaller pieces of rock - and continues until they are totally broken down into soil.
As society places more demands on our natural resources, national parks and nature reserves will come under more pressure. People for various (variety, many) reasons will want to use the land for different, often conflicting (opposite) purposes.
Below is an activity based on this problem. The group must come to some agreement as to how the land is (must) to be used.
KILBASA NATIONAL PARK
Kilbasa National Park is a small park located in central Moravia two kilometers from the small tourist town of kilbasa. Although the park is small, it has exceptional (very special) limestone formations. These formations are some of the most spectacular (very atractive) in Central Europe. On the top of the formations are ruins (in excelent condition) of a fortress/castle dating back to the twelfth century. The limestone formations also have special appeal (interest) for rock climbers, since many of the exposed (open) sides are sheer (flat, steep) and offer the most challenging climbs in Europe. In fact the National Rock Climbing Association has plans to host the world rock climbing competition at the park later this year.
On those areas of the limestone where vegetation can grow a variety of flora can be found, including a very rare species of astors. In fact this is the only known habitat where these flowers are found in Europe and the largest of only six places in the world where they are found.
For all of the above reasons Kilbasa National Park is the most popular park in the country. Through out spring , summer and autumn there is a constant stream of visitors to the park who greatly enjoy the park's attractions. Last year the park had a record 600,000 visitors. Because of this, the town of Kilbasa has become very wealthy by providing (offering, giving) services to the tourists.
Recently, several events have occurred which might change things at Kilbasa National Park.
First, because of the great number of people who are visiting the park, the National Park Service wants to charge an entrance fee to all people who want to visit and use the park. The money is necessary to maintain (keep up, fix up and repair) the park because of the heavy use.
Second, researchers for Stay Healthy Drug Co. have isolated chemicals from the astors found in Kilbasa National Park that show great promise in curing AIDS.
Third, archeologists from the National University have just discovered human bones, tools and other artifacts dating back 5,000 years at the base of the limestone formations and want the entire park closed for three years so they can investigate the area.
Finally, Geologists for Fuelco, the national oil company, have just discovered oil in the park. Preliminary (first) research indicates (shows) the deposits may be enormous (very big) and could meet all the country's fuel needs well into the next century. Oil exploration would require the park being closed completely.
Representatives from all of the above special interest groups are meeting now to discuss the future of Kilbasa National Park. Before leaving the meeting general agreement must be reached on how the land in Kilbasa National Park will be used and its future. Representatives to the meeting include:
National Rock Climbing Association President
Chairperson of the Archeological Department of the
Mayor of Kilbasa
President and owner of Stay Healthy Drug Co.
President of Fuelco
Chairperson of the National Outdoor Recreation
Association, the largest outdoor recreation
organization in the country
Selected references (some from which materials were adapted):
Connect - The Newsletter of Practical Science and Math for K-8 Teachers," P.O. Box 6480, Brattleboro, VT 05301, May, 1989
Federal Committee for the Environment, State of the Environment in Czechosslovakia, Prague: Vesmir, 1992.
"Land Management Plan Outline," adapted from the "Master Plan Outline" as found in the "Stewardship Manual," The Nature Conservancy, 1978.
National Research Council, Alternative Agriculture, Washigton: National Academy Press, 1989.
Perlow, Ruth, "Land Management Plan of Trustees of Reservations in Petersham, Massachusetts," Antioch/NewEngland Graduate School, Keene, New Hampshire, Unpublished, 1992.
Peterson, Patricia Wilcox, Changing Times, Changing Tenses, Bureau of Edecation and Cultural Affairs, United States Information Agency, Washington, DC 20541, 1989.
"Soil Story," Soil Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., 1981.