The Rain Forest Project

Jim Diggins

Introduction | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion



"Rain forests cover less than two percent of the Earth's surface, yet they are home to some 50 to 70 percent of all life forms on our planet. The rain forests are quite simply, the richest, oldest, most productive and most complex ecosystems on Earth"



As you see from the quote above the RAIN FOREST ACTION NETWORK (RAN) the world's rain forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Some of the statistics are:


Global Rates of Destruction
  • 2.47 acres (1 hectare) per second: equivalent to two U.S. football fields
  • 150 acres (60 hectares) per minute
  • 214,000 acres (86,000 hectares) per day: an area larger than New York City
  • 78 million acres (31 million hectares) per year: an area larger than the country of Poland.
In Brazil
  • 5.4 million acres per year (estimate averaged for period 1979-1990)
  • 6-9 million indigenous people inhabited the Brazilian rain forest in 1500. In 1992, less than 200,000 remain.
Species Extinction
  • Distinguished scientists estimate an average of 137 species of life forms are driven into
  • extinction every day, or 50,000 each year.

The Task

Your country is a small but growing country with hundreds of square miles of rain forests. However it is under great pressure from its own citizens and from people around the world on how to use this most precious of resources. A major legal battle is developing and people are under a great deal of stress.

  • Do you protect the "lungs of the earth" for the rest of the planet?
  • Do you allow local peasants to chop it down for lumber, farm animals and agriculture?
  • What are the consequences, long term and short term, associated with a decision either way?
  • Who benefits the most and who loses the most with a decision either way?



A Virtual Tour

Take a tour of a rainforest. Explore the rain forests through the magic of the Internet. Go to the "Science in the Rain forest " web site and meet the monkeys and birds that live there. See the plants that are endangered and learn why rain forests are so important to human existence.


The following Internet sites my help you decide how to best use the rain forests.

Site 1: What is a Rain Forest

Site 2: The Brazilian Rainforest

Site 3: "Tropical Rain Forests"


Classroom Library:

Locate the Mini library in this classroom. Several books and magazines are available for help with your investigation.

The Process:

You are preparing for a legal battle in the courts of your country. The entire world is watching very closely. The pressure is immense! Your team is divided into two groups. One side is for harvesting the rain forest the other side is against. Each member takes on the role of a court room lawyer. You must research your side of the battle using the resources named in the "Resource" section above.

  1. Use the Internet to begin your research. Go to the Internet sites listed above and read the information in each site.
  2. Look through the classroom "Mini Library" and look for any helpful information that will help you win your case.
  3. Discuss your plan of attack with your team mates. What is your strategy? What is the most important information you found?
  4. Take notes from the Internet, the books and magazines. (notes will be collected)
  5. Prepare your opening statement for the judge (your teacher)


You will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Notes taken from your resources
  • Opening statement from each side
  • Your Presentation
  • Participation and Team Work



 Scoring Rubric 



Now that you have finished this web quest, think about how the use of the rain forests today affects you now and in the future. Write a two page reflection that tells:

  • Three facts you have learned that you did not know before this WebQuest.
  • What you can do today to protect the rain forests?
  • Do American's have the right to tell another country how to manage their resources?

Last updated May 1999.

Based on a template from The Web quest Page.

Adapted for offline use. For the original WebQuest go to: