Academic Writing

Reporting - paraphrase, summary & synthesis

Synthesis

Example

As part of an essay, you need to include a section of about 100 words on the reasons for protecting the earth's tropical rainforests? You find the following information from different sources:

1 A rainforest is a thick forest of tall trees which is found in tropical areas where there is a lot of rain.

 

2 Rainforest Map

 

3
  • An area of tropical forest the size of Britain is deforested every year. This is one million acres a week or 100 acres a minute.
  • In 1950, 30% of the earth was covered by tropical forest. By 1975, only 12% was left and in 2002, they now cover only about 6% of the earth's land.
  • Today more than 40% of the world's original forests have gone. Latin America has lost 37% of its original tropical forests, Asia 42% and Africa 52%.
  • The world is now losing its tropical forest at the rate of 7% a year and the end of the tropical rainforests is in sight.

 

4 Forests are one of the most valuable ecosystems in the world, containing over 60% of the world's biodiversity. This biodiversity has multiple social and economic values, . varying from the important ecological functions of forests in terms of soil and watershed protection to the economic value of the numerous products which can be extracted from the forest. For many indigenous and other forest-dependent people, forests are their livelihood. They provide them with edible and medicinal plants, bush meat, fruits, honey, shelter, firewood and many other goods, as well as with cultural and spiritual values. On a global scale, all forests play a crucial role in climate regulation and constitute one of the major carbon sinks on earth, their survival thus preventing an increase in the greenhouse effect.

 

5 The United States Cancer Institute has identified more than 2,000 tropical rainforest plants with the potential to fight cancer. And yet, as the forests come down, such plants - and the hopes they embody - are destroyed. Already about 40% of all drugs prescribed in the United States owe all, or much, of their potency to chemicals from wildlife - largely from the rainforest. Quinine, which acts against malaria, comes from the bark of a South American tree. The armadillo is helping us find a cure for leprosy. Sufferers from . high blood pressure gain relief from the snakeroot plant from Indian forests. And the yam has given us the contraceptive pill.

 

6 Until now . there has been enough remote and underdeveloped land for small groups of people to follow their traditional ways of life without interference; and since such people rarely make any drastic change in their environment, their life is often life in the rain forests. The forest provides their food (wild vegetables, fruits and hunted animals) and their material culture (houses or shelters, boats, hunting equipment, twine, rope, poisons and medicines). There are reckoned to be over 4,000 plant species used by forest dwellers as food and medicine alone, many of which are local or endemic, known only to small groups whose knowledge of the forest is passed on orally, from generation to generation. Adapted to life in the forest, self-sufficient in it, using its products but never destroying their source, hunting forest animals but only according to need, such people both protect the forest and are protected by it.

 

7 Rainforests influence the carbon cycle (green plants take up carbon dioxide, which they convert to sugars by means of photosynthesis, a process during which oxygen is released into the air) and also have a profound effect on rainfall. The uneven surface of treetops causes air turbulence that increases the amount of water evaporating from the forest. This forms clouds that fall as rain. If forests disappear, less rain will fall, it will drain more quickly, and soil temperature will rise.

 

8 Most striking . is the obvious lack of trees. With the population growth in the region, the amount of land under cultivation increases. The forests are then cut down to make way for more agricultural terraces. This lack of trees has led to many problems. The soil is now exposed during the dry season and this land is very vulnerable to water erosion during monsoon rains. Lack of tree cover has led to a more exposed soil, highly susceptible to wind erosion. The consequent depletion of the topsoil reduces soil fertility, causing great concern to the food producing farmers. Kanda is located on very steep slopes. The soil substrate is soap stone, a particularly porous stone mined commercially. The area is thus made more vulnerable to landslides. Tree roots help retain soil stability when waterlogged by heavy downpours. In hilly areas, tree roots help in the maintenance of a healthy watershed system. Nowadays, with forests gone, many springs stop running in the dry season. Without the drawing action of deep tree roots, the underground water table has dropped beyond reach. Floods down stream from valleys such as Kanda are said to result from the lack of tree cover in the Himalayan Hills. With Monsoon patterns changing, and torrential unseasonal downpours increasingly common, this problem worsens to often catastrophic consequences.

 

9 Most of Bangladesh lies less than 10 metres above sea level. Over 90 million people live within this area. Floods in 1987 covered 40% of Bangladesh and in 1988 they covered 62%. In Bangladesh the 'normal floods' resulting from the 'usual' monsoon rainfall are considered a resource by farmers. Monsoon flooding is necessary for the maintenance of agriculture with floodwaters covering 30% of the land in a normal year. Yet in certain years they can experience disastrous flood events. Abnormal flooding occurs once every few years and is regarded as an undesirable and damaging phenomenon. All floods are not caused by the same factors. One possible cause is that forest clearance in the Himalayas is responsible. They say it removes large areas of trees, which takes an important water store away, so more water goes as surface runoff. When trees are present they act as a natural buffer against erosion and floods. Surface flow is slowed; rainwater infiltrates the soil by way of root channels; the leaf canopy protects the surface of the soil from the impact of large raindrops; and the root systems bind the soil particles. Forest clearance may be the cause of widespread soil erosion in areas like Nepal. Downstream from the Himalayas, uncontrolled runoff caused by deforestation in the catchment areas of the major rivers, and the increased silting of river channels as a result of soil erosion may have contributed to disastrous flooding in Bangladesh.

 

Try the following stages:

  1. Read and understand the texts.
  2. Find the relevant ideas in the texts. Mark them in some way - write them down, take notes, underline them or highlight them.
  3. Make sure you identify the meaning relationships between the words/ideas - use colours or numbers.
  4. Read what you have marked very carefully.
  5. Organise the information you have. You could give all similar ideas in different texts the same number or letter or colour.
  6. Transfer all the information on to one piece of paper. Write down all simiar information together.
  7. Paraphrase and summarise as necessary.
  8. Check your notes with your original texts for accuracy and relevance.
  9. Combine your notes into one continuous text.
  10. Check your work.
    1. Make sure your purpose is clear
    2. Make sure the language is correct
    3. Make sure the style is your own

1. Read and understand the texts.

From a quick first reading it is clearly seen that the main reasons for protecting the rainforests are because of: the livelihood of the people who live there, the wealth of medicinal plants, their uses in protecting against soil erosion and their effect on the air.

2-4. Find the relevant ideas in the texts. Mark them in some way - write them down, underline them or highlight them. Make sure you identify the meaning relationships between the words/ideas. Read what you have marked very carefully.

The relevant areas of the text are therefore marked as well as useful background information for the introduction. The following colours are used: introduction, facts, the livelihood of the people who live there, the wealth of medicinal plants, their uses in protecting against soil erosion and their beneficial effect on the air.

1 A rainforest is a thick forest of tall trees which is found in tropical areas where there is a lot of rain.

 

2 Rainforest Map

 

3
  • An area of tropical forest the size of Britain is deforested every year. This is one million acres a week or 100 acres a minute.
  • In 1950, 30% of the earth was covered by tropical forest. By 1975, only 12% was left and in 2002, they now cover only about 6% of the earth's land.
  • Today more than 40% of the world's original forests have gone. Latin America has lost 37% of its original tropical forests, Asia 42% and Africa 52%.
  • The world is now losing its tropical forest at the rate of 7% a year and the end of the tropical rainforests is in sight.

 

4 Forests are one of the most valuable ecosystems in the world, containing over 60% of the world's biodiversity. This biodiversity has multiple social and economic values, . varying from the important ecological functions of forests in terms of soil and watershed protection to the economic value of the numerous products which can be extracted from the forest. For many indigenous and other forest-dependent people, forests are their livelihood. They provide them with edible and medicinal plants, bush meat, fruits, honey, shelter, firewood and many other goods, as well as with cultural and spiritual values. On a global scale, all forests play a crucial role in climate regulation and constitute one of the major carbon sinks on earth, their survival thus preventing an increase in the greenhouse effect.

 

5 The United States Cancer Institute has identified more than 2,000 tropical rainforest plants with the potential to fight cancer. And yet, as the forests come down, such plants - and the hopes they embody - are destroyed. Already about 40% of all drugs prescribed in the United States owe all, or much, of their potency to chemicals from wildlife - largely from the rainforest. Quinine, which acts against malaria, comes from the bark of a South American tree. The armadillo is helping us find a cure for leprosy. Sufferers from . high blood pressure gain relief from the snakeroot plant from Indian forests. And the yam has given us the contraceptive pill.

 

6 Until now . there has been enough remote and underdeveloped land for small groups of people to follow their traditional ways of life without interference; and since such people rarely make any drastic change in their environment, their life is often life in the rain forests. The forest provides their food (wild vegetables, fruits and hunted animals) and their material culture (houses or shelters, boats, hunting equipment, twine, rope, poisons and medicines). There are reckoned to be over 4,000 plant species used by forest dwellers as food and medicine alone, many of which are local or endemic, known only to small groups whose knowledge of the forest is passed on orally, from generation to generation. Adapted to life in the forest, self-sufficient in it, using its products but never destroying their source, hunting forest animals but only according to need, such people both protect the forest and are protected by it.

 

7 Rainforests influence the carbon cycle (green plants take up carbon dioxide, which they convert to sugars by means of photosynthesis, a process during which oxygen is released into the air) and also have a profound effect on rainfall. The uneven surface of treetops causes air turbulence that increases the amount of water evaporating from the forest. This forms clouds that fall as rain. If forests disappear, less rain will fall, it will drain more quickly, and soil temperature will rise.

 

8 Most striking . is the obvious lack of trees. With the population growth in the region, the amount of land under cultivation increases. The forests are then cut down to make way for more agricultural terraces. This lack of trees has led to many problems. The soil is now exposed during the dry season and this land is very vulnerable to water erosion during monsoon rains. Lack of tree cover has led to a more exposed soil, highly susceptible to wind erosion. The consequent depletion of the topsoil reduces soil fertility, causing great concern to the food producing farmers. Kanda is located on very steep slopes. The soil substrate is soap stone, a particularly porous stone mined commercially. The area is thus made more vulnerable to landslides. Tree roots help retain soil stability when waterlogged by heavy downpours. In hilly areas, tree roots help in the maintenance of a healthy watershed system. Nowadays, with forests gone, many springs stop running in the dry season. Without the drawing action of deep tree roots, the underground water table has dropped beyond reach. Floods down stream from valleys such as Kanda are said to result from the lack of tree cover in the Himalayan Hills. With Monsoon patterns changing, and torrential unseasonal downpours increasingly common, this problem worsens to often catastrophic consequences.

 

9 Most of Bangladesh lies less than 10 metres above sea level. Over 90 million people live within this area. Floods in 1987 covered 40% of Bangladesh and in 1988 they covered 62%. In Bangladesh the 'normal floods' resulting from the 'usual' monsoon rainfall are considered a resource by farmers. Monsoon flooding is necessary for the maintenance of agriculture with floodwaters covering 30% of the land in a normal year. Yet in certain years they can experience disastrous flood events. Abnormal flooding occurs once every few years and is regarded as an undesirable and damaging phenomenon. All floods are not caused by the same factors. One possible cause is that forest clearance in the Himalayas is responsible. They say it removes large areas of trees, which takes an important water store away, so more water goes as surface runoff. When trees are present they act as a natural buffer against erosion and floods. Surface flow is slowed; rainwater infiltrates the soil by way of root channels; the leaf canopy protects the surface of the soil from the impact of large raindrops; and the root systems bind the soil particles. Forest clearance may be the cause of widespread soil erosion in areas like Nepal. Downstream from the Himalayas, uncontrolled runoff caused by deforestation in the catchment areas of the major rivers, and the increased silting of river channels as a result of soil erosion may have contributed to disastrous flooding in Bangladesh.

5. Organise the information you have. You could give all similar ideas in different texts the same number or letter or colour.

Introduction

what rain forests are
where they are

why they need protecting - 4 reasons

1

provide livelihood for people

2

wealth of medicinal plants

3

help prevent soil erosion

4

beneficial effect on climate and air

Conclusion

quick summary
stress need to preserve

6-7. Transfer all the information on to one piece of paper. Write down all similar information together. Paraphrase and summarise as necessary.

Tropical rainforests - centre of earth - most in Brazil - also central Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia
area decrease (30% 1950, 6% 2002) left arrow human intervention:

  • forests exploited for wood

  • cleared for farmland

if not stopped/controlled right arrow problems for those living & working in forests + all humans
4 reasons:

  1. provide habitat & livelihood for people - derive their food & material wealth
    + trees & plants are worshipped
    decrease forest right arrow communities die

  2. + rest of the world right arrow worse off
    2000+ rainforest plants right arrow able to fight cancer & other diseases (40% of US drugs) e.g. armadillo right arrow cure for leprosy

  3. forests help retain soil and protect watershed - without them ecological disasters e.g. floods increase in Bangladesh

  4. + effect on air crucial - trees affect carbon cycle - absorb CO2 emit O2 in photosynthesis - lungs of the world
    therefore decrease forest right arrow decrease clean air
    + helps regulate climate & rain

Rainforest - home for some people & destruction of concern to all.
+ rainforest = essential part human ecosystem
therefore must preserve

8-9. Check your notes with your original texts for accuracy and relevance. Combine your notes into one continuous text.

Suggested answer:

Tropical rainforests spread around the centre of the earth, with the largest concentration of trees in Brazil. Other large areas of rainforest are to be found in central Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia. The total area of rainforest is rapidly and continually decreasing, mostly because of human intervention. Either the forests are being exploited for wood and wood products, or they are being cleared to provide farmland. If this deforestation is not stopped, or otherwise controlled, the consequences could be catastrophic for those who live and work in the forests and for all of humankind.

Firstly, rainforests provide a habitat and a livelihood for many people. These forest-dwellers not only derive their material wealth from the jungle, they also rely on it for their spiritual and cultural needs as the trees and plants are also objects of worship and sanctity. With the uprooting of the forest, whole communities are also uprooted. Like the trees, they are doomed to wither and die.

Besides those immediately affected by deforestation, people in the rest of the world will undoubtedly be worse off by the continued destruction of the jungles. More than two thousand tropical rainforest plants have been identified with the potential to fight cancer. Furthermore, a large number of drugs currently in use are derived from rainforest plants, for example, the jungle-dwelling armadillo may provide a cure for leprosy.

If without the rainforest the sick can no longer look forward to cures, the healthy have no cause for complacency either. Forests help retain soil and protect the watershed. Without them, ecological disasters on the scale of those seen recently in Bangladesh will become common and even more devastating.

The effect of rainforests on the air is equally crucial to their effect on the land. Trees influence the carbon cycle. By absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen as part of the photosynthesis process, they effectively aerate the world. A reduction in the forested area will therefore lead to a reduction in breathable air.

It is clear, then, that for some, the rainforest is home and that the deliberate destruction of anyone's home should be of concern to the wider world community. It is also clear that the rainforest is an essential part of the ecosystem that all humans need, wherever they have their home, if they are to continue to exist.

10. Check your work.

    1. Make sure your purpose is clear
    2. Make sure the language is correct
    3. Make sure the style is your own

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