Friday, February 17, 2017

IELTS Express Upper Intermediate Progress Test 3 p.70-74

(Supplementary Materials for Specific Textbooks--IELTS Express Upper Intermediate)

Listening Progress Test PowerPoint: drive, slides, pub
Listening Progress Test Transcript: drive, docs, pub
Reading Progress Test Powerpoint: drive, slides, pub
Reading Progress Test Answers: drive, docs, pub

Progress Test 3 Listening Transcript
Vaugh: Hi Shelley.
Shelley: Hi Vaughn.  Just working on my presentation on the decline of the British bird population.
V: Birds, Hm.
S: Did you know the number of countryside birds has decreased dramatically over the last two decades?
V: Er, can’t say I’d noticed.  I don’t get out to the country much.
S: Well, maybe you should, while there’s still some birds there.
V: Well, Shelley, these things happen.  We can’t…
S: This is important, Vaughn.  The status of the wild bird population is indicative of the health of the environment.  A struggling bird population means a sick environment.
V: So, why is this happening?
S: Mainly loss of habitat.  The countryside is quite different from what it was twenty or thirty years ago.
V: Why’s that?
S: It’s mostly due to changes in farming practices.
V: Really?  The farmers are to blame?
S: To an extent, yes.  Certainly the rise in the use of chemicals has had a big impact.
V: And they’re poisonous to birds, are they?
S: Not directly, but their use results in the loss of plant and invertebrate food sources.  Kill off what a bird eats, kill off the bird.
V: That’s why it’s called “the food chain”.
S: Exactly.  And another key factor is that crop sowing times have changed.  In the past farmers would harvest a crop of, say, wheat, in high summer, and leave the remains of the plant, the stubble, in the ground until the next spring, when they would plant new crops.
V: So what happens now?
S: Now they remove the stubble and plant the new crops in the autumn.  Because it’s in the ground longer, the crop has more time to grow and they get a better yield.
V: Well, how does that affect birds?
S: The stubble used to provide an ideal habitat for birds to forage for food during the harsh winter months.
V: Oh, I see.
S: Other habitats are destroyed in other ways.  For example, grasslands are drained or ploughed up.  Hedgerows are removed to create bigger, more cost-effective fields, but the hedgerows provided a place to nest, protection from predators, and a good source of food, like berries, seeds, insects, and so on.
V: So, are all birds equally affected by this?  Are they all in decline?
S: The RSPB has…
V: Sorry, the what?
S: The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has drawn up three lists—red, amber and green—which categorise over 240 birds in terms of conservation concern.
V: Red, amber, green—like traffic lights.
S: That’s right, the red list contains 52 species including those that are globally threatened or those whose population has declined rapidly in recent years.
V: What’s on that list?  Blackbirds?
S: No, through the starling, which is related to the blackbird, has joined the red list, as has the house sparrow.  One of the birds people are most concerned about is the skylark, which has been greatly affected by habitat loss.
V: So what about the amber list?
S: That includes 126 birds with “unfavorable conservation status”, or whose population has declined moderately in recent years.  That includes birds of prey, such as the kestrel and osprey, woodlands birds like the green woodpecker, water birds like the shelduck and farmland species such as the reed bunting.
V: And are all other birds on the green list?
S: Not necessarily.  It doesn’t include those species that are not native to the UK—foreign species that have been introduced deliberately, such as the Canada goose—or those that have escaped from domestic cages, for example parrots.
V: I don’t suppose it includes summer visitors either, you know, like reed warblers.
S: No, they are included in fact.  They are in this last category.
V: So, is anybody doing anything about all this?
S: Thankfully, yes.  The RSPB is campaigning to stop this loss of biodiversity by putting pressure on the government to invest money to rescue and protect threatened habitats.
V: But I thought you said that farmers were to blame?
S: Well, the RSPB has called on the government to reform the Common Agricultural Policy so that agricultural subsidies only go to environmentally friendly farmers.
V: I guess that would encourage them to change the way they do things.
S: That’s right.  And there’s a further initiative which encourages farmers to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
V: What’s that then?
S: They’re being asked to turn off their seed drills occasionally for a count of two seconds, when sowing winter cereals.  This will leave small areas of land, about four meters square, that can be used by skylarks for nesting and feeding.
V: And will farmers do this?
S: Well, farmers are being offered financial incentives to create skylark plots.  The RSPB is aiming for two plots in every hectare of land.
V: And will this work?
S: Hopefully.  The RSPB reckons that if these empty patches are created on just one fifth of Britain’s arable farmland, the decline of the skylark could be halted and then reversed.
V: Well, that’s very interesting.  Let’s hope it works.
S: Yes, let’s.
Reading Progress Test Answers p.72-74

1. Not Given
2. Not Given
3. Yes
4. Yes
5. No
6. Yes
7. F
8. A
9. G
10. C
11. early space rocket/ dirigible
12. roller blinds
13. windows
14. underground entrance

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