Geography

Rationale/Aims

The study of Geography draws on students’ curiosity about the diversity of the world’s places and their peoples, cultures and environments. It enables students to appreciate the complexity of our world and the diversity of its environments, economies and cultures.

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Structure of Geography

In Senior Secondary Geography, students develop their understanding about themes of immediate relevance to them and which have scope for application at a variety of scales, from the local to the global.

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Links to Foundation to Year 10

The senior secondary Geography curriculum builds on the knowledge, conceptual understandings and inquiry skills developed in the Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum: Geography.

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Representation of General capabilities

The general capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with the Geography curriculum content and the cross-curriculum priorities, will help students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.

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Representation of Cross-curriculum priorities

While the significance of the cross-curriculum priorities for Geography varies, there are opportunities for teachers to select contexts that incorporate the key concepts from each priority.

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Achievement standards

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Unit 3: Land cover transformations

Unit 3: Land cover transformations Description

This unit focuses on the changing biophysical cover of the earth’s surface, its impact on global climate and biodiversity, and the creation of anthropogenic biomes. In doing so, it examines the processes causing change in the earth’s land cover. These processes may include: deforestation, the expansion and intensification of agriculture, rangeland modification, land and soil degradation, irrigation, land drainage, land reclamation, urban expansion and mining.

These processes have altered local and regional climates and hydrology, damaged ecosystem services, contributed to the loss of biodiversity, and altered soils. The scale at which these processes now occur is so extensive that there no longer exist any truly ‘natural’ environments. All environments are, to a greater or lesser extent, modified by human activity. This focus on anthropogenic biomes differentiates Geography from Earth and Environmental Science. The processes of land cover transformation have also changed the global climate through their interaction with atmospheric processes, and climate change is, in turn, producing further transformations in land cover.

The unit integrates aspects of physical and environmental Geography to provide students with a comprehensive and integrated understanding of processes related to land cover change, and their local and global environmental consequences. It also examines and evaluates the ways people seek to reverse the negative effects of land cover change.

This unit includes an overview of land cover change and two depth studies: one focusing on the interrelationship between land cover and either global climate change or biodiversity loss, and one focusing on a program designed to address land cover change.

The scale of study for this unit, unless specified, can range from local to global, as appropriate. There is, for example, the requirement that students investigate the impacts of land cover change on local and regional environments; a local land cover change initiative designed to address the issue of climate change of biodiversity loss; and the evaluation of program to address land cover change. Each of these provides opportunities for fieldwork.

In undertaking these depth studies, students develop an understanding about using and applying geographical inquiry, tools such as spatial technologies, and skills to investigate human–environment systems.


Unit 3: Land cover transformations Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will:

  • understand the nature, extent and causes of the changing land cover of the earth’s surface, including the presence of anthropogenic biomes, and evaluate projections of future changes in global land cover
  • understand the local and regional effects of land cover change on ecosystems, and the interrelationships between land cover change and global climate change or biodiversity loss
  • understand and apply key geographical concepts – including place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change – as part of a geographical inquiry
  • apply geographical inquiry and a range of skills, including spatial technologies and fieldwork, to investigate land cover change and its consequences
  • evaluate the environmental, economic and social benefits and costs of a program aimed at responding to the negative impacts of land cover change.

Unit 3: Land cover transformations Content Descriptions

Geographical Inquiry and Skills

Observing, questioning and planning

formulates geographical inquiry questions (ACHGE054)

plans a geographical inquiry with clearly defined aims and appropriate methodology (ACHGE055)

Collecting, recording, evaluating and representing

collects geographical information incorporating ethical protocols from a range of primary and secondary sources (ACHGE056)

records observations in a range of graphic representations using spatial technologies and information and communication technologies (ACHGE057)

evaluates the reliability, validity and usefulness of geographical sources and information (ACHGE058)

Interpreting, analysing and concluding

analyses geographical information and data from a range of primary and secondary sources and a variety of perspectives to draw reasoned conclusions and make generalisations (ACHGE059)

identifies and analyses trends and patterns, infers relationships, and makes predictions and inferences (ACHGE060)

Communicating

communicates geographical information, ideas, issues and arguments using appropriate written and/or oral, cartographic and graphic forms (ACHGE061)

uses geographical language in appropriate contexts to demonstrate geographical knowledge and understanding (ACHGE062)

Reflecting and responding

applies generalisations to evaluate alternative responses to geographical issues at a variety of scales (ACHGE063)

proposes individual and collective action taking into account environmental, social and economic factors; and predicts the outcomes of the proposed action (ACHGE064)

Geographical Knowledge and Understanding

Overview: nature, extent, causes and consequences of land cover change

Reference should be made to global forests, cropland, rangelands, pasture and urban land cover using illustrative examples drawn from different regions and countries and at different scales.

The identification and classification of land cover change using remotely sensed images and aerial photographs. (ACHGE065)

The interpretation of data sourced from spatial technologies and fieldwork to explain the nature, rate, extent and consequences of land cover change. (ACHGE066)

World population growth, growing affluence, advances in technology and their impact on the rate and extent of land cover change and biodiversity. (ACHGE067)

The differences in the process of land cover change between countries due to factors such as government policy, institutional arrangements, land ownership, type of economy, ideology and culture, in addition to the range of physical factors. (ACHGE068)

Methods of projecting changes in land cover using spatial modelling, incorporating both environmental and socioeconomic variables. (ACHGE069)

Indigenous peoples’ land management practices and their impact on land cover over time including those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. (ACHGE070)

The relationship between land cover change and climate change and the long-term impact of climate change on land cover. (ACHGE071)

The impacts of land cover change on local and regional environments. (ACHGE072)

Human-generated land cover change and its consequences including: the competitive advantages of indigenous and introduced species; the balance within each of these groups; and the effects such changes might have on land cover changes and biodiversity. (ACHGE073)

The concept of anthropogenic biomes and its implications for our understanding of the functioning of the world’s ecosystems. (ACHGE074)

Students complete both depth studies which are to be taught with the requisite geographical inquiry and skills described as part of this unit:

Depth study of the interrelationship between land cover change and changes in either global climate or biodiversity

A depth study to investigate the links between changes in land cover and changes in global climate or biodiversity:

Climate change

The causes, rate and projected impacts of global climate change. (ACHGE075)

The interrelationships between land cover change and climate change, for example, the impacts of land cover loss on surface reflectivity (albedo) and the process of natural carbon sequestration. (ACHGE076)

The effects of climate change on land cover, for example, vegetation, ice sheets, glaciers and coral reefs. (ACHGE077)

A local initiative designed to address the effects of global climate change on land cover. (ACHGE078)

Biodiversity

The causes, rate and projected impacts of declining biodiversity. (ACHGE079)

The interrelationships between land cover change and biodiversity loss, for example, the processes of evolutionary diversification and species extinction and their implications for land cover in the future. (ACHGE080)

The effects of biodiversity loss on ecosystem services and species, and ecosystem and genetic diversity. (ACHGE081)

A local initiative designed to address the effects of biodiversity loss or change. (ACHGE082)

Depth study of a program to address land cover change

A depth study, using fieldwork and/or secondary sources, to investigate how land cover change is being addressed and evaluated.

Students select ONE existing program that addresses land cover change in order to investigate:

approaches to land cover restoration and rehabilitation, and the mitigation of future land cover changes, for example, debt-for-nature swaps and preservation strategies (ACHGE083)

a program designed to address the issue of land cover change and its consequences at a local scale (for example, coast dune rehabilitation, urban zoning regulations) (ACHGE084)

the selected program’s environmental, economic, and social benefits and costs (ACHGE085)

an assessment of the program’s effectiveness (ACHGE086)

an evaluation of alternative approaches to the restoration and rehabilitation of the area being studied using the concept of sustainability to determine which approach has the potential to address the issue into the future. (ACHGE087)