“Sweden’s announcement that it is to build a series of animal bridges is the latest in global efforts to help wildlife navigate busy roads.” The Guardian, Jan. 23, 2021
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“Every April, Sweden’s main highway comes to a periodic standstill. Hundreds of reindeer overseen by indigenous Sami herders shuffle across the asphalt on the E4 as they begin their journey west to the mountains after a winter gorging on the lichen near the city of Umeå.
As Sweden’s main arterial road has become busier, the crossings have become increasingly fractious, especially if authorities do not arrive in time to close the road. Sometimes drivers try to overtake the reindeer as they cross – spooking the animals and causing long traffic jams as their Sami owners battle to regain control.
‘During difficult climate conditions, these lichen lands can be extra important for the reindeer,’ says Per Sandström, a landscape ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences who works as an intermediary between the Sami and authorities to improve the crossings.
This week, Swedish authorities announced they would build up to a dozen “renoducts” (reindeer viaducts) to aid the crossings and allow reindeer herds to reach grazing more easily…The country’s 4,500 Sami herders and 250,000 reindeer have been hit hard by the climate crisis, battling forest fires in the summer and freezing rain in the winter that hides lichen below impenetrable sheets of ice…The renoducts are part of a growing number of wildlife bridges and underpasses around the world that aim to connect fractured habitats. On the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico, underpasses have been used to shield jaguars from traffic.
Natural canopy bridges in the Peruvian Amazon have helped porcupines, monkeys and kinkajous pass over natural gas pipelines…To help save the mountain lion population from local extinction, an $87m (£63m) wildlife bridge is planned over the 101 highway north of LA, which would be the largest in the world… A 2014 study found that fencing off the road and installing wildlife passes had maintained high genetic diversity in black and grizzly bear populations…a big fall in roadkill along the highway, also significantly reducing human mortality from animal collision.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Every year hundreds of reindeer shuffle across the asphalt in Sweden.
- The reindeer are overseen by indigenous Sami herders.
- They begin their journey west to the mountains after a winter gorging on the lichen near the city of Umeå.
- Per Sandström is a landscape ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural.
- Sometimes drivers try to overtake the reindeer as they cross.
- During difficult climate conditions, these lichen lands can be extra important for the reindeer.
- Swedish authorities announced they would build up to a dozen “renoducts” (reindeer viaducts) to aid the crossings.
- It is hoped the crossings will allow herders to find fresh grazing lands and alleviate traffic jams.
- Natural canopy bridges in the Peruvian Amazon have helped porcupines and monkeys.
- The wildlife bridges help avert some of the billions of animal deaths that happen on the roads every year.
Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions
Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.
Some Prepositions: at,as, across, around,by, during,for, from, in, into,of, on,to, over,off, through, up,with, since,
It is hoped the crossings will allow herders___find fresh grazing lands and alleviate traffic jams, and also help moose and lynx ___move around the landscape. The country’s 4,500 Sami herders and 250,000 reindeer have been hit hard___the climate crisis, battling forest fires___the summer and freezing rain ___the winter that hides lichen ___impenetrable sheets ___ice… ___southern California, there have been signs ___inbreeding ___lions___ the Santa Monica Mountains because busy freeways around Los Angeles have isolated populations___ low genetic diversity.
Reading Comprehension: Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “During difficult climate conditions, these lichen lands can be extra important for the reindeer.”
- “When habitat is isolated, we can have impact on individual animals where they might not be able to find water or food. We can also have impact on the genetic diversity of populations.”
- “We’re woefully behind the rest of the world. In Europe, it’s become second nature in some areas.”
III. Post Reading Activities
Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea
Directions: Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with discussing or writing about the main idea and points from the article.
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Can you think of ways that climate change has affected our wild life in the U.S.?
- Why do the Sami herders have to take their reindeer across Sweden’s highway every April?
- What are renoducts and what purpose do they serve?
- What are some of the climate problems Sami herders have encountered?
- According to the article, which animals benefit from these crossings the most?
- What other countries have provided protection for their animals from heavy vehicle traffic?
- According to the article, approximately how many animal deaths occur on the roads every year world wide?
- Why has there been inbreeding among the lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains?
- How are humans protected by the animal bridges?
- Do you agree or disagree that more animal bridges should be built? Provide a reason for your answer.
- What new information have you learned from this article?
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.