IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 47

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Bamboo

A Bamboo is an essential provider of shelter as well as income for over a billion people. Meanwhile, several endangered species also depend on bamboo to survive. Although bamboo seems plentiful today, information from a new report suggests that the bamboo species could be in trouble.

B Mountain gorillas residing Central Africa migrate to the foothills and lower hills near the Virunga Mountains to graze on bamboo annually in the rainy season. Bamboo is the primary food source for about 650 gorillas that remain in the wild today. Even though they will consume about 150 different kinds of plants, in addition to eating insects and other invertebrates, during the rainy season bamboo represents about 90 percent of what these gorillas eat. Dan Redmond, chairman of the Ape Alliance, claims that without bamboo, there won’t be much hope for the gorillas’ continued survival. It seems that gorillas aren’t the only one who rely on bamboo. Local people living around the Virungas use this valuable material for a variety of purposes, such as constructing houses and making household goods, like mats and baskets. Over the course of the century, growing populations have cleared large areas of bamboo forest for agricultural and commercial plantations, which has, in turn, resulted in a shortage of raw materials for building.

C Unfortunately, these kinds of issues seem to be rather widespread. As the areas in which many species of bamboo once grew diminish all across the globe, populations of people and animals who depend on this resource are negatively impacted. However, in spite of bamboo’s significance, our knowledge on the plant is appears limited. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) published a report recently which demonstrates a complete lack of understanding on global bamboo resources, especially concerning the plant’s conservation. With nearly 1,600 known species of bamboo, the report only concentrated on approximately 1,200 woody varieties which are identified by their strong stems, or culms, commonly associated with bamboo. Those noted for having commercial value, a mere 38 “priority species” are the only current subjects of scientific research. The research itself is mostly geared towards protecting the plant for commercial use only, a problem goes far beyond just bamboo. Science intended to examine the conservation status of plants is still relatively new when compared to similar work done with animals. “People have only started looking hard at this during the past 10-15 years, and only now are they getting a handle on how to go about it systematically,” says Dr. Valerie Kapos, a senior adviser in forest ecology and conservation to the UNEP who co-authored the report.

D In fact, Bamboo is a grass species. Ranging in height from 30 centimetres to more than 40 meters, it grows in many different shapes and sizes. Bamboo holds the title of fastest-growing woody plant, with some species boasting the ability to grow a meter per day. Bamboo not only acts as a food source and habitat for animals, but also has a role in maintaining the soil. Rhizome is the name given to the root system of groups of bamboo, made up of many strands from individual plants that grow together. These elaborate rhizome systems, are essential to keep soil erosion under control as they protect the top layers of the soil. Mounting evidence even suggests that bamboo has an important role in determining the structures and dynamics within forests. “Bamboo’s pattern of mass flowering and mass death leaves behind large areas of dry biomass that attract wildfire,” says Kapos. “When these burn, they create patches of open ground within the forest far bigger than would be left by a fallen tree.” Ecological diversity is encouraged by patchiness, as certain plant species thrive in earlier stages of regeneration when there are gaps in the tree canopy.

E Moreover, bamboo’s economic value may be of greatest importance. Modern ways of processing the plant allow it to be used in versatile ways, such as for flooring and laminates. The demand for bamboo to produce paper is growing the fastest, with 25 percent of paper produced in India currently made from bamboo fiber. Meanwhile in Brazil, 100,000 hectares of bamboo are grown for the purpose of producing paper. Domestic uses have traditionally been bamboo’s biggest purpose, making it worth about US$4.5billion annually as a traded good. Owing to its various uses, bendiness, and strength (its tensile strength is as good as some steel),  another one of its important roles is in construction. Over one billion people alive today live in bamboo houses around the world. For people in developing nations, bamboo is the only choice for an easily accessible raw materials in many cases, says Chris Stapleton, a research associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens. “Bamboo can be harvested from forest areas or grown quickly elsewhere, and then converted simply without expensive machinery or facilities,” says Stapleton. “In this way, it contributes substantially to poverty alleviation and wealth creation.”

F Taking bamboo’s value in economic and ecological terms into account, it seems that the UNEP report is increasingly concerning. However, some horticulturists have noticed apparent inconsistency here. It seems that if bamboo isn’t constantly maintained within an area, it will grow completely out of control.  Just ask those who have kept up with a recent trend of growing exotic plants in their own gardens, and they’ll tell you themselves. “In a lot of places, the people who live with bamboo don’t perceive it as being endangered in any way,” says Kapos. “In fact, a lot of bamboo species are actually very invasive if they’ve been introduced.” How could such an invasive, persistent species be endangered at all? There are two distinct issues at play here, says Ray Townsend, vice president of the British Bamboo Society and arboretum manager at the Royal Botanic Gardens. “Some plants are threatened because they can’t survive in the habitat – they aren’t strong enough or there aren’t enough of them, perhaps. But bamboo can take care of itself – it is strong enough to survive if left alone. What is under threat is its habitat.” The real problem for bamboo is interference which disturbs it, says Kapos. “When forest goes, it is converted into something else: there isn’t anywhere for forest plants such as bamboo to grow if you create a cattle pasture.”

G Bamboo species are regularly protected within forest ecosystems in national parks and reserves around the world, but there are nearly no policies in place to just protect wild bamboo. In the meantime, there are a fews ways that the situation is being dealt with. The UNEP-INBAR report is intended to aid conservationists to undertake measures for keeping valuable wild bamboo species safe. Townsend agrees that the UNEP report represents an important initial step to increase awareness on bamboo conservation. He says, “Until now, bamboo has been perceived as a second-class plant.”

H When imagining places like the Amazon, most of us will picture only the hardwoods, which are of obvious importance to the health of the forest. There exists a inclination to overlook the plants they are associated with, many of which are bamboo species. Bamboo may be one of the most important plant species for humans. “I can’t think of another plant that is used so much and is so commercially important in so many countries.” Many others feel similarly to Townsend, in that the best way to get started is getting scientists into the field. “We need to go out there, look at these plants and see how they survive and then use that information to conserve them for the future.”

This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 14-26.
Questions 14-18
The reading passage has eight paragraphs labelled A-H.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

14. Comparison of bamboo with other plant species.

15. How people have very confined knowledge of bamboo.

16. A description of how destroying bamboo could jeopardize wildlife.

17. The reason why bamboo has loads of commercial potentials.

18. The methods used to study bamboo.

Questions 19-24
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 19-24 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this.

19. Bamboo is the gorilla’s primary food source throughout the entire year.

20. Compared to the work carried out on animals, the science of assessing the conservation status of plants is still in its infancy.

21. Priority species of bamboo are selected primarily by their importance in relation to entire ecosystems.

22. Erosion of the soil has made it difficult for groups of bamboo roots, or rhizome, to thrive.

23. Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than wood, and a specific tensile strength that rivals steel.

24. There is next to nothing that protects bamboo in the wild for its own sake.

Questions 25-26
Complete the sentences below.

Choose NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in 25-26 on your answer sheet.

Bamboo’s main function has always been in applications, and as a locally traded commodity it’s worth about $4.5billion annually.

Given bamboo’s value in terms, the picture painted by the UNEP report is all the more worrying.


Answer Sheet
1
N/A
2
N/A
3
N/A
4
N/A
5
N/A
6
N/A
7
N/A
8
N/A
9
N/A
10
N/A
11
N/A
12
N/A
13
N/A
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


Reading Passage Vocabulary
Bamboo

A Bamboo is an essential provider of shelter as well as income for over a billion people. Meanwhile, several endangered species also depend on bamboo to survive. Although bamboo seems plentiful today, information from a new report suggests that the bamboo species could be in trouble.

B Mountain gorillas residing Central Africa migrate to the foothills and lower hills near the Virunga Mountains to graze on bamboo annually in the rainy season. Bamboo is the primary food source for about 650 gorillas that remain in the wild today. Even though they will consume about 150 different kinds of plants, in addition to eating insects and other invertebrates, during the rainy season bamboo represents about 90 percent of what these gorillas eat. Dan Redmond, chairman of the Ape Alliance, claims that without bamboo, there won’t be much hope for the gorillas’ continued survival. It seems that gorillas aren’t the only one who rely on bamboo. Local people living around the Virungas use this valuable material for a variety of purposes, such as constructing houses and making household goods, like mats and baskets. Over the course of the century, growing populations have cleared large areas of bamboo forest for agricultural and commercial plantations, which has, in turn, resulted in a shortage of raw materials for building.

C Unfortunately, these kinds of issues seem to be rather widespread. As the areas in which many species of bamboo once grew diminish all across the globe, populations of people and animals who depend on this resource are negatively impacted. However, in spite of bamboo’s significance, our knowledge on the plant is appears limited. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) published a report recently which demonstrates a complete lack of understanding on global bamboo resources, especially concerning the plant’s conservation. With nearly 1,600 known species of bamboo, the report only concentrated on approximately 1,200 woody varieties which are identified by their strong stems, or culms, commonly associated with bamboo. Those noted for having commercial value, a mere 38 “priority species” are the only current subjects of scientific research. The research itself is mostly geared towards protecting the plant for commercial use only, a problem goes far beyond just bamboo. Science intended to examine the conservation status of plants is still relatively new when compared to similar work done with animals. “People have only started looking hard at this during the past 10-15 years, and only now are they getting a handle on how to go about it systematically,” says Dr. Valerie Kapos, a senior adviser in forest ecology and conservation to the UNEP who co-authored the report.

D In fact, Bamboo is a grass species. Ranging in height from 30 centimetres to more than 40 meters, it grows in many different shapes and sizes. Bamboo holds the title of fastest-growing woody plant, with some species boasting the ability to grow a meter per day. Bamboo not only acts as a food source and habitat for animals, but also has a role in maintaining the soil. Rhizome is the name given to the root system of groups of bamboo, made up of many strands from individual plants that grow together. These elaborate rhizome systems, are essential to keep soil erosion under control as they protect the top layers of the soil. Mounting evidence even suggests that bamboo has an important role in determining the structures and dynamics within forests. “Bamboo’s pattern of mass flowering and mass death leaves behind large areas of dry biomass that attract wildfire,” says Kapos. “When these burn, they create patches of open ground within the forest far bigger than would be left by a fallen tree.” Ecological diversity is encouraged by patchiness, as certain plant species thrive in earlier stages of regeneration when there are gaps in the tree canopy.

E Moreover, bamboo’s economic value may be of greatest importance. Modern ways of processing the plant allow it to be used in versatile ways, such as for flooring and laminates. The demand for bamboo to produce paper is growing the fastest, with 25 percent of paper produced in India currently made from bamboo fiber. Meanwhile in Brazil, 100,000 hectares of bamboo are grown for the purpose of producing paper. Domestic uses have traditionally been bamboo’s biggest purpose, making it worth about US$4.5billion annually as a traded good. Owing to its various uses, bendiness, and strength (its tensile strength is as good as some steel),  another one of its important roles is in construction. Over one billion people alive today live in bamboo houses around the world. For people in developing nations, bamboo is the only choice for an easily accessible raw materials in many cases, says Chris Stapleton, a research associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens. “Bamboo can be harvested from forest areas or grown quickly elsewhere, and then converted simply without expensive machinery or facilities,” says Stapleton. “In this way, it contributes substantially to poverty alleviation and wealth creation.”

F Taking bamboo’s value in economic and ecological terms into account, it seems that the UNEP report is increasingly concerning. However, some horticulturists have noticed apparent inconsistency here. It seems that if bamboo isn’t constantly maintained within an area, it will grow completely out of control.  Just ask those who have kept up with a recent trend of growing exotic plants in their own gardens, and they’ll tell you themselves. “In a lot of places, the people who live with bamboo don’t perceive it as being endangered in any way,” says Kapos. “In fact, a lot of bamboo species are actually very invasive if they’ve been introduced.” How could such an invasive, persistent species be endangered at all? There are two distinct issues at play here, says Ray Townsend, vice president of the British Bamboo Society and arboretum manager at the Royal Botanic Gardens. “Some plants are threatened because they can’t survive in the habitat – they aren’t strong enough or there aren’t enough of them, perhaps. But bamboo can take care of itself – it is strong enough to survive if left alone. What is under threat is its habitat.” The real problem for bamboo is interference which disturbs it, says Kapos. “When forest goes, it is converted into something else: there isn’t anywhere for forest plants such as bamboo to grow if you create a cattle pasture.”

G Bamboo species are regularly protected within forest ecosystems in national parks and reserves around the world, but there are nearly no policies in place to just protect wild bamboo. In the meantime, there are a fews ways that the situation is being dealt with. The UNEP-INBAR report is intended to aid conservationists to undertake measures for keeping valuable wild bamboo species safe. Townsend agrees that the UNEP report represents an important initial step to increase awareness on bamboo conservation. He says, “Until now, bamboo has been perceived as a second-class plant.”

H When imagining places like the Amazon, most of us will picture only the hardwoods, which are of obvious importance to the health of the forest. There exists a inclination to overlook the plants they are associated with, many of which are bamboo species. Bamboo may be one of the most important plant species for humans. “I can’t think of another plant that is used so much and is so commercially important in so many countries.” Many others feel similarly to Townsend, in that the best way to get started is getting scientists into the field. “We need to go out there, look at these plants and see how they survive and then use that information to conserve them for the future.”

 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.

Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.

    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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