IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 79

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The Decline of Europe's forests

The decline of Europe's forests over the last decade and a half has led to an increasing awareness and understanding of the serious imbalances which threaten them. European countries are becoming increasingly concerned by major threats to European forests, such as air pollution, soil deterioration, an increasing number of forest fires, and the mismanagement of land. There is a growing awareness of this issue, encouraging countries to get together to coordinate their policies. In December 1990, Strasbourg hosted the first Ministerial Conference on the protection of Europe's forests. The conference brought together 31 countries from both Western and Eastern Europe. The topics discussed included the coordinate study of the destruction of forests, as well as how to combat forest fires and the extension of European research programs on forest ecosystems. The preparatory work for the conference was undertaken at two meetings of experts. Their initial task was to decide which of the many forest problems of concern to Europe involved the largest number of countries and required joint action. Countries confined to particular geographical areas, such as countries bordering the Mediterranean or Scandinavia were not included in this particular task.

There is a real concern throughout Europe about the damage to the forest environment posing a threat to essential functions of forests. As a whole, European countries see forests as performing three essential functions: biological, economic and recreational. The first is to act as a 'green lung' for our planet. Through photosynthesis, forests produce oxygen by transforming solar energy, similar in a way to an immense, non-polluting power plant. At the same time, forests provide raw materials for human activities through their constantly renewed production of wood. Finally, forests offer those living in an urban environment a place to unwind and take part in a range of leisure activities, such as hunting, riding, and hiking. The economic importance of forests has been understood since the dawn of man, as wood was the first source of fuel, while other aspects have been recognized only for a few centuries.

The myth of the 'natural' forest has survived, yet there are effectively no remaining 'primary' forests in Europe. All European forests are artificial, having been adapted and exploited by man for thousands of years. This means that a forest policy is vital, that it must transcend national frontiers and generations of people, and that it must allow for the inevitable changes that take place in the forests. The Strasbourg conference was one of the first events on such a scale to reach this conclusion. Accompanied by six detailed resolutions, a general declaration was made that 'a central place in any ecologically coherent forest policy must be given to continuity over time and to the possible effects of unforeseen events, to ensure that the full potential of these forests is maintained'.

The first resolution proposes the extension and systematic monitoring of surveillance sites to prevent forest decline. Forest decline is still poorly understood, but leads to the loss of a high proportion of a tree's needles or leaves. The entire continent and the majority of species are now affected, with between 30% and 50% of the tree population in decline. The condition appears to result from the cumulative effect of a number of factors, with atmospheric pollutants the principal culprits. Compounds of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide should be particularly closely watched. However, their effects are probably accentuated by climatic factors, such as drought and harsh winters, or soil imbalances such as soil acidification, which damages roots. The second resolution concentrates on the need to preserve the genetic diversity of European forests. The aim is to reverse the decline in the number of tree species or at least to preserve the 'genetic material' of all of them. Although forest fires do not affect all of Europe to the same extent the amount of damage caused the experts to propose the third resolution that the Strasbourg conference considers the establishment of a European databank on the subject. All information used in the development of national preventative policies would become generally available.

The subject of the fourth resolution discussed by the ministers was mountain forests. In Europe, it is undoubtedly the mountain ecosystem which has changed most rapidly and is most at risk. A thinly scattered permanent population and development of an industry of leisure activities, particularly skiing, have resulted in significant long-term changes to the local ecosystems. Proposed developments include a preferential research program on mountain forests. The fifth resolution relented that the European research network on the physiology of trees, Euro Silva, should support joint European research on tree diseases and their physiological and biochemical aspects. Each country concerned could increase "the number of scholarships and other financial support for doctoral theses and research projects in this area, finally, the conference established the framework for a European research network on forest ecosystems. This would also involve harmonizing activities in individual countries as well as identifying a number of priority research topics relating to the protection of forests. The Strasbourg conference's main concern was to provide for the future. This was the initial motivation, one now shared by all 31 participants representing 31 European countries. Their final text commits them to an ongoing discussion between government representatives with responsibility for forests.




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 1-14.
Questions 1-7
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1-7 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.

1. Forest problems of Scandinavia are to be discussed at the next meeting of experts.

2. Forests are a renewable source of raw material.

3. It was only in the twentieth century that the biological significance of forests was eventually recognized.

4. Natural forests still exist in parts of Europe

5. Forest policy should be limited by national boundaries.

6. European governments cannot agree on how to manage forests in the future.

7. The Strasbourg conference decided that a forest policy must allow for the possibility of change.

Questions 8-13
Look at the following List of resolutions (Questions 8-13) and Statements Issued by the Conference below.

Match statements with the appropriate resolutions

Write the correct number A-J in boxes Questions 8-13 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.
Statements Issued by the Conference
  1. Efforts should be made to maintain all kinds of species of forests.
  2. The putting in place of a program studying the damage done to mountain forests.
  3. There should be more financial investment in research related to forest environments.
  4. There should be greater coordination between countries in the research and management of forests.
  5. Information be collected and shared which relates to damage caused by fire.
  6. Loss of leaves from trees should be more extensively and carefully monitored
  7. Resources should be allocated to research tree diseases.
  8. Skiing and other recreational activities should be encouraged in thinly populated areas.
  9. Soil imbalances such as acidification should be treated with compounds of nitrogen and sulfur.
  10. The controlled monitoring of forests to determine any decline in their condition.

8. Resolution 1

9. Resolution 2

10. Resolution 3

11. Resolution 4

12. Resolution 5

13. Resolution 6

Question 14
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in box 14 on your answer sheet.

14. What was the main motivation for creating the six resolutions?




Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
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
The Decline of Europe's forests


The decline of Europe's forests over the last decade and a half has led to an increasing awareness and understanding of the serious imbalances which threaten them. European countries are becoming increasingly concerned by major threats to European forests, such as air pollution, soil deterioration, an increasing number of forest fires, and the mismanagement of land. There is a growing awareness of this issue, encouraging countries to get together to coordinate their policies. In December 1990, Strasbourg hosted the first Ministerial Conference on the protection of Europe's forests. The conference brought together 31 countries from both Western and Eastern Europe. The topics discussed included the coordinate study of the destruction of forests, as well as how to combat forest fires and the extension of European research programs on forest ecosystems. The preparatory work for the conference was undertaken at two meetings of experts. Their initial task was to decide which of the many forest problems of concern to Europe involved the largest number of countries and required joint action. Countries confined to particular geographical areas, such as countries bordering the Mediterranean or Scandinavia were not included in this particular task.

There is a real concern throughout Europe about the damage to the forest environment posing a threat to essential functions of forests. As a whole, European countries see forests as performing three essential functions: biological, economic and recreational. The first is to act as a 'green lung' for our planet. Through photosynthesis, forests produce oxygen by transforming solar energy, similar in a way to an immense, non-polluting power plant. At the same time, forests provide raw materials for human activities through their constantly renewed production of wood. Finally, forests offer those living in an urban environment a place to unwind and take part in a range of leisure activities, such as hunting, riding, and hiking. The economic importance of forests has been understood since the dawn of man, as wood was the first source of fuel, while other aspects have been recognized only for a few centuries.

The myth of the 'natural' forest has survived, yet there are effectively no remaining 'primary' forests in Europe. All European forests are artificial, having been adapted and exploited by man for thousands of years. This means that a forest policy is vital, that it must transcend national frontiers and generations of people, and that it must allow for the inevitable changes that take place in the forests. The Strasbourg conference was one of the first events on such a scale to reach this conclusion. Accompanied by six detailed resolutions, a general declaration was made that 'a central place in any ecologically coherent forest policy must be given to continuity over time and to the possible effects of unforeseen events, to ensure that the full potential of these forests is maintained'.

The first resolution proposes the extension and systematic monitoring of surveillance sites to prevent forest decline. Forest decline is still poorly understood, but leads to the loss of a high proportion of a tree's needles or leaves. The entire continent and the majority of species are now affected, with between 30% and 50% of the tree population in decline. The condition appears to result from the cumulative effect of a number of factors, with atmospheric pollutants the principal culprits. Compounds of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide should be particularly closely watched. However, their effects are probably accentuated by climatic factors, such as drought and harsh winters, or soil imbalances such as soil acidification, which damages roots. The second resolution concentrates on the need to preserve the genetic diversity of European forests. The aim is to reverse the decline in the number of tree species or at least to preserve the 'genetic material' of all of them. Although forest fires do not affect all of Europe to the same extent the amount of damage caused the experts to propose the third resolution that the Strasbourg conference considers the establishment of a European databank on the subject. All information used in the development of national preventative policies would become generally available.

The subject of the fourth resolution discussed by the ministers was mountain forests. In Europe, it is undoubtedly the mountain ecosystem which has changed most rapidly and is most at risk. A thinly scattered permanent population and development of an industry of leisure activities, particularly skiing, have resulted in significant long-term changes to the local ecosystems. Proposed developments include a preferential research program on mountain forests. The fifth resolution relented that the European research network on the physiology of trees, Euro Silva, should support joint European research on tree diseases and their physiological and biochemical aspects. Each country concerned could increase "the number of scholarships and other financial support for doctoral theses and research projects in this area, finally, the conference established the framework for a European research network on forest ecosystems. This would also involve harmonizing activities in individual countries as well as identifying a number of priority research topics relating to the protection of forests. The Strasbourg conference's main concern was to provide for the future. This was the initial motivation, one now shared by all 31 participants representing 31 European countries. Their final text commits them to an ongoing discussion between government representatives with responsibility for forests.

 
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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