Before we start:

A Webquest is a discovery tour, where the learner is his/her own guide! You decide where you will go to find results. Often, more than one answer is OK!

In this Webquest we will address the phenomenon of deforestation: you must have seen the news about it, given the massive wildfires in forests all over the planet. Some say that deforestation will have a major impact on important and threatened animal and plant species, but also on the air quality in advanced civilisations, affecting many people: bad air quality shortens lives!


In this WebQuest you will investigate several aspects of deforestation; the search will take you to different areas all over the world. We want you to know about some things of the past, especially about how it started. However, the main emphasis will be on what’s going on today and to what extent forests have disappeared. This will help you to understand the problem to its full extent and you should be able to answer a question like how disastrous is the disappearance of forests and who is primarily affected?

The risks related to deforestation are acknowledged nowadays by a large number of influential politicians in countries all over the world, not only the highly developed ones. We also want you to have your own opinion on related issues, like climate change and the general risk for life on earth when forests keep shrinking. But maybe you have an opinion on these things already. We are curious to learn if your ideas will be the same after this Webquest. Have a nice discovery tour!


Understanding the consequences of deforestation.

The disappearance of forests and other natural environments seems to be of all ages: people need land for agriculture or to build villages and cities. They would take any space that seemed useful for their purpose, no matter what the land was used for. When the land was not in use by humans at all, like forests, the decision to use it for growing crops or building houses was even easier.   Main reasons species Are endangered by deforestation. Explanation “Green” politicians and protectors of the natural environment say that we need to recognize and actively address deforestation and its effects. Interventions to preserve the huge jungle areas that host so many endangered animals and plants may already come too late to save iconic animals. Examples:

  • Orangutang
  • Leopard
  • Brazilian Giant Otters
  • Sumatran Rhinos
  • Pangolins
  • Saola or Asian Unicorn
  • Golden Lion Tamarin Monkey
  • Gorilla,
  • Chimpanzee,
  • Harpy Eagle
  • Poison Dart Frog
  • Bengal Tiger
  • Three Toed Sloths
  • Hyacinth Macaw
  • Toucan

(Plus many others) The threatened extinction of the animals is caused by various situations and developments, culminating in the destruction of the ecosystem

  1. Low level of genetic variability
  2. Poor dispersal ability
  3. Pollution
  4. Large area requirements
  5. Hunting and fishing
  6. Concentrated population
  7. Introduction of exotic species
  8. Long-distance migration Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surged to a 12-year high in the year between August 2019 and July 2020, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). Over that time, 11,088 square kilometres (6,890 square miles) were destroyed — up 9.5% from the previous year, and the highest level of destruction since 2008, INPE said during a news conference on Monday. In comparison: the total surface of the Netherlands is 41.543 km², meaning an area equalling ¼ of the Dutch surface is deforested in Brazil in just one year. Deforestation has soared since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019. It is hard to imagine that deforestation before the Middle Ages could have harmed anyone! Probably it was no problem at all in the “old days”.  



  1. Why is deforestation in our present time a problem? Please refer to some direct and indirect consequences.


Your next task is to search for the reasons why people engage in eliminating forest areas:

  1. Up to the Middle Ages, deforestation served a purpose: explain why deforestation was useful in those times.
  2. Especially in the Netherlands, the people were successful in turning areas, other than forests, from non-productive into agricultural areas. What kind of surface did the Dutch retrieve for agricultural use?
  3. News websites and newspapers published in January 2021 a story about deforestation: they mentioned the main reason why this was happening. Here you get three links: check them and list the most important reasons for eliminating the original state of the land:

Compare the above news sources:

    1. Do they agree on the main reason for deforestation? Which one?
    2. The article in Trouw says: “De Europese vraag naar meer ruimte voor landbouw is de grote boosdoener.” Does the writer mean that deforestation happens in Europe?
      Name some important areas around the world where deforestation is taking place.
    3. Did you know any of these sources before you started this Webquest? What is your most common news source (if any)?
  1. Over the last years, many large fires contributed to the destruction of forests:
    1. Where did it happen? Name at least two major countries.
    2. What causes were reported?
    3. How did (people in) other countries react (if at all)?
    4. Find some pictures of the burnings and tell in your own words what they show.
  2. Sometimes the news leads to enormous exaggerations or “fake news”, as some call it today. Check out the page in the link below and choose the most damaging and incorrect news item (according to you). Tell as good as you can why you think the item you chose is more damaging than others:
  3. What stands out to you as most worrisome of all the news about the wildfires around the world in 2020?


  1. Look back at the list of endangered animal species: pick five of them, list the countries where they live and try to find out for what product(s) the deforestation takes place there. Is it always to create more agricultural space?

Forests provide a living area for animals, although some can easily survive in our cities as well. The disappearance of forests does not only limit the space for animals and plants, but the effects of this process could endanger human life as well.

  1. Look for yourself: what is happening here?


Note: The image above is moving: this function will be lost when the material is printed!  

  1. What is the main and most scaring effect of disappearing forests? Is there a way to protect human life from the effect of disappearing forests?
  2. Deforestation is linked to the process of rising temperatures in our world. Please do some necessary research, report it here and explain how the disappearance of forests contributes to the warming of the earth (climate change).
  3. Do you know of any initiative trying to compensate for global warming by preserving and enlarging forest areas? If not, look on the internet for one (or more) initiative(s) and describe how it aims to work.
  4. What is your favourite animal among the endangered species? You don’t have to restrict your choice to the ones given in the list above. Present your animal in a short speech and talk about the reason why it is in danger of disappearing totally.

Watch out: your next task may seem easy at first sight, but surely it is not as simple as it seems!

The class will be divided into five groups of 4-6 persons, depending on the total number of pupils. The fourth group may even be bigger (see below to understand why).

The classroom becomes a courtroom! Soon a procedure will start to convict some people who will be held accountable for the deforestation taking place and its’ negative consequences.

All groups should have at least one PC with internet access, so they can look for information and arguments that may be relevant in this legal process.

In the first group, 2 persons will be the defendants or the accused: they can perhaps be leaders of a company that is responsible for some form of heavy deforestation. The two are supported by the others in the group who will perform the role of lawyers: they raise arguments to underline defensive arguments.

  1. First task: look for a company in a forest area claiming natural grounds for its’ work.
  2. Second task: define arguments why that work would not be detrimental to nature.


The second group consists of two prosecutors accusing the defendants: they claim that the actions of the company will contribute to the worldwide climate change that will cause serious negative consequences. The accusers are also supported by 1 or 2 group members, performing as assistant lawyers who will look for arguments to strengthen the accusations.

  1. First task: look for information on the company in relation to its work in forest areas.
  2. Second task: define a penalty (imprisonment, compensation for the damage, dissolving the company) and argue why that penalty is justified.


The third group consists of the main judge and one or two assistant judges: they will write down and read to all participants how they evaluate the arguments they heard. Prosecutors and lawyers of the defence may change or extend their arguments and present them again in the second round of argumentations. There will be no more than two rounds of accusations and pleas.


The fourth group is formed by the jury (which may consist of any suitable number of pupils): they will hear all arguments and discuss their value while all others in the courtroom are listening (without the option to interfere or correct their previous statements. The jury will try to reach a decision on the culpability of the accused, and it is the explicit task of the judges to guide the jury towards a decision.


The fifth group consist of a special kind of public in the courtroom: the reporters. This group will write about the proceedings. The position of these reporters is more or less comparable to that of the registrar (in Dutch: griffier) in the image on the left: the registrar reports for the internal purposes of the court, the reporter reports to the public. A registrar is supposed to be objective; the reporter can express opinions that are welcomed by the readers.

However, in this case, the other groups have to agree to the content of the report: they may demand the reporter(s) to change(s) the text.

One member of this group will record the proceedings in the courtroom on video: the recordings can be used as evidence during the final discussion/evaluation of the accused: is he or she or are they guilty or not?

Note: the conclusions of the court procedures do not necessarily have to be justifiable: the only task for the press is to report accurately (according to the participants) what was said in the courtroom and what the conclusion of the jury is, no matter if they agree with the jury or not. In fact, they must try to rule out their own opinions and only report what actually happened.

After the court session is completed, the whole class will discuss the proceedings and try to reach a joint conclusion on the affair, this may be different from the verdict of the jury. During this discussion, court proceedings may be re-assessed on the basis of additional arguments, video evidence or information retrieved from the internet and other sources.

The prime moral question is: does a court procedure guarantee that objective justice is served?


Your sources can be internet-based: websites, social media, Wikipedia and other online places where relevant information is stored. You may also use more traditional information sources: newspapers, books and documents in the local or school library or wherever you find them (your parents’ newspapers and magazines at home).

Make sure you check your sources: especially news media may publish “coloured” information which pleases the owners and the advertisers. The same applies for other media: some are biased because of personal preferences of the authors/journalists: they may favour some person (actor, musician, sports hero) and be inclined to choose their side when there’s a conflict of interests.

Whatever your source of information is, mention it. You don’t need to be objective, although that would be highly appreciated. Everything you say is OK, if your reasons and the evidence you use, are transparent. Other people should be able to check your findings. That is the basic rule in science: data and reasoning must be transparent.

This is also where science and journalism go separate ways …


What did you learn about the forests in the world and the threats to flora and fauna around the globe? And what about climate change in relation to deforestation? Did this Webquest change your ideas and knowledge about deforestation and global warming?

After working on these tasks: what is the knowledge or the opinions you will take along with you? What do you think should be done about deforestation? Do you share the worries of those who want to protect nature and especially the forests?

Rating your results



not bad



Assignment 1: what is deforestation?

Answers to questions

max .. points

It seemed as if you hardly worked on the questions.

You provided only a few background data with minimal comments to show what deforestation means. If people didn’t know about deforestation, they wouldn’t be wiser with your answers.

You worked a little bit on gathering information, but you clearly have not learned much about deforestation, even though there’s much information on the internet.

It’s a start, but you can improve, by striving for more complete answers.

You worked pretty hard on gathering information and you clearly found interesting info about deforestation and its’ importance for the people involved. You used the internet well. This was a very good start, but you still can improve the information you give.

Your work is a fine example of gathering and presenting information and you clearly know how to use various media, like the internet, as a source of information.

This is close to perfection: it is hard to see how you could improve your work.

Assignment 2: effects and consequences of deforestation

Answers to questions

max .. points

It seemed as if you did little efforts: you gave hardly any serious consequences of the deforestation process.

Also, you did not talk much about what can be done to diminish or control negative effects of disappearing forests.

You did some good efforts: you were able to list at least some effects/consequences of deforestation. You were able to find facts about disappearing forests. It’s a good start, but you still can improve.

You worked pretty hard on gathering information and you could explain why people destroy or replace forests. You also wrote well about the opposition against deforestations and the many reasons for protecting nature.

Your work is a fine example of presenting the complex data that you got from your various sources.

You explained the relations between shrinking forest areas, rising temperatures and extinction of various animal species. This is close to perfection!

Assignment 3: Court Game

Answers to questions & argumentation

max .. points

Most of the time you tried to avoid contributing to the work of your group in the Court Case against deforestation. We doubt that you know what the effects of deforestation could be for life on Earth?

You made some elementary contributions to the input of the group for the discussions in Court and the arguments concerning the causes and effects of disappearing forests. It’s a start, open for further improvement.

You made some fine and elaborate contributions to the input of the group for the discussions in Court and arguments concerning the causes and effects of forests that disappear. It’s a good start, but improvement is possible.

You made the best and most elaborate contributions to the discussions in Court and arguments concerning the causes and effects of forests that disappear. You clearly presented what the risks of deforestation are. It’s close to perfection.

Your leaner report:


argumentation of your pesonal achievements


max .. points

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements was hardly specific, consisting of simple and unrelated statements. There is reasonable doubt that you learned much.

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements lacks solid coherence. At least you were able to name a few.

It’s a start, ready for improvement.

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements showed good coherence. You named a few things that you learned and what it means to you.

It’s a good start!

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements was complete. You were able to point out what you learned, about the subject and about yourself! That’s just what we wanted.

Teacher instruction

This Webquest is suitable for classroom work of small groups or for working in distant, online educational environments, where students work individually or again in groups. In the latter case, they will have to use modern communication facilities like web-conferencing (Skype, Zoom) in order to cooperate effectively. In the case of distant, online training, the Court Game will be hard to carry out, although modern ICT could perhaps provide a working solution as well. The evaluation process needs attention and care: it will require online communication between teacher and pupil(s) to clarify certain issues. Also, teachers need to anticipate a possible holdup: learners may not understand a certain task and stop working for whatever reason.

The introduction is the only information online students will have when starting their Webquest, but the factual orientation of the first question will take them straight to certain information that clarifies the subject. In the classroom, the teacher can introduce the subject of deforestation in any way he/she likes, for instance, who knows if tropic wood was used for the furniture at home. It could also be an extra assignment for pupils to do research on this at home.

Not all the questions and tasks will lead to straight and absolute true answers. In some cases, pupils will find different information, according to the sources they used, in other cases, learners are asked to phrase their opinions.

Comparison of the answers given by pupils in the classroom or online (using web-conferencing), as well as discussing the opinions given by the pupils, is an important part of the evaluation of this Webquest.


It is good that pupils are aware of the discussion about deforestation, whether it is seen as a real problem or not. For some, this Webquest may be the start of developing their own opinion, as many of them may have heard about climate change and global warming, but not so much about the disappearing forests and the extinction of animal species as a consequence.


Evaluation of learning achievements

In this section we will not dive very deep into the underlying educational theories about evaluation and testing: there’s too much out there than we could possibly cover in this small project report.

Instead, we want to concentrate on procedures that enable both students/pupils and their teachers to establish if the learning goals of the Webquest were achieved and, if so, to what extent. We recommend teachers make use of a combined evaluation procedure, that consists of:

  1. Statements by learners (after being asked to do so)
    • telling what they learned about the subject (knowledge-oriented self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know that …
    • telling what he/she learned about herself/himself (formative evaluation, in this case, diagnostic self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know about myself that I …
      This pair of basic statements add up to a so-called learner report, in which the pupil/student reflects on what the Webquest brought him/her in terms of acquired knowledge and new personal views and attitudes concerning the subject.

    For instance:

    • ‘I learned that in medieval times the hygiene of people was hardly a concern which helped to let epidemic diseases like the Plague cause so many casualties’ Or:
    • ‘I learned the facts and I know the earth is warming, but I cannot understand why people were so stupid to pollute the world and let it warm up so much.
    • ‘I learned from the information about diseases that this subject is more appealing to me than I would expect in advance: maybe I should consider a medical career’. Or:
      ‘The Webquests confirms what I thought already: I could not care less about the climate and global warming. In fact, I thought it was all a hoax and I still do!’

    This kind of assessment seems more subjective than it actually is: in his standard work on testing and evaluation (and much more), simply called Methodology (1974), Prof. A.D. de Groot described how consistent the student’s self-evaluations appeared to be: when asked again after 5 or 10 years, their evaluation would almost be the same. De Groot advised teachers to use the learner report as a start for joint evaluations, striving for consensus between teacher and student/pupil about the learning outcomes and their value for the learner, but also compared with the learning objectives as stated in the curriculum.

  2. The learning achievements are visible in the output produced by the students: it is physical evidence: reports, answers to questions asked in the Webquest, presentations, and performance during presentations (preferably recorded). The teacher completes an evaluation grid stating clearly what the learning outcomes for the student/pupil are. The categories in the grid can be modified by the teacher to cover more precisely the content of a Webquest.

    >We advise teachers to use the grid to start a joint evaluation discussion, aiming at consensus or at least understanding between the teacher and the student/pupil about the learning outcomes: were they achieved (as planned in the curriculum and communicated before the Webquest started) and to what extent? To communicate the learning goals clearly before any learning activity starts, is a transparency requirement that is widely acknowledged in the educational community. The history of making learning objectives explicit goes back to the evaluation ‘Bible’ by Bloom, Hastings and Madaus: ‘Handbook on formative and summative evaluation of student learning’ (1971), a standard work that also served as inspiration for the earlier mentioned Prof. De Groot.


The procedure also applies when students/pupils have worked together on a Webquest. The teacher will ask questions about individual contributions: ‘What did you find? What part did you write? How did you find the illustrations? Who made  the final presentation?’

All the evidence (of learning efforts and outcomes plus joint evaluations) is preferably stored in the learning portfolio of the student, or in any other suitable storage system (folders with written or printed documents, online collection of files, etcetera ).

Changes in personal points of view and feelings are harder to value and here the consensus between teacher and student/pupil about experiences during the learning process provides essential insights.

The grid below gives an example of how the evaluation of the learning process and achievements can be shaped: what kind of reactions to the Webquest does the teacher expect and how valuable are they? Is the teacher capable to explain the value or score allocated to answers or presentations given by pupils? Does the pupil/student understand the evaluation outcomes, and does he/she agree? If an agreement (consensus is not possible, it is still the teacher who decides how to value the student’s work.

Please note that the text in the grid addresses the pupil/student directly: this is important and it is in fact a prerequisite for using such an evaluation grid: it is specifically meant to enable a discussion of learning results between teacher and student and not to communicate learning achievements of learners to others who had no direct role in the Webquest.

Evaluation Grid

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Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

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