Advanced level English
the Everglades !
wetlands are in serious difficulty
Among the most famous and visited national parks in America, the
spectacular Florida "Everglades" are dying. To save their rich natural
ecosystems, with their birds, reptiles and many other species, the US Congress has set up the biggest environmental
program in American history. But the costs are enormous, and things are
not advancing very fast.
The Everglades, seen from the air.
Florida's "Everglades", the largest national park
in the eastern USA, are in serious danger. One of the most significant
areas of "wetland" in the world, and classified by UNESCO as a "World Heritage
Site", the park has suffered dramatically over the last sixty years on
account of encroaching
agriculture and the vast expansion
of Florida's population. If the decline is not stopped, the
entire ecosystem of southern Florida could be irreparably damaged - and
the sunshine state, one of the fastest growing states in the USA, could
become an inhospitable
Back in the year 2000, in order to
prevent just such a catastrophe, and ensure the survival of America's
most distinctive National Park, Congress approved a 30-year
8.2 billion dollar Everglades rescue plan, the largest concerted
environmental project the world had ever known.
The Everglades are popular with tourists.
Estimated at 10,700 square miles (27,700
km2), the original Everglades area was home to a fantastically rich and
diverse range of wildlife; but in recent decades, this wildlife has
already been decimated
It is estimated that the water-bird population of the Everglades has
fallen by 93% in the last forty years.
As a "wetland" region, the whole
environment of the Everglades depends on the flows of water into and
out of its vast area of natural swampland
Before modern agriculture and drainage schemes
began to change the hydrology of the whole of southern Florida, water
that fell on the central part of the Florida Peninsula used
to flow regularly and naturally into the great Lake Okeechobee, the
large lake at the northern end of the Everglades region. From there, it
would flow out slowly and regularly in a southerly direction, through
the Everglades, and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Since the 1940's, this natural system
has been radically modified. Over 1,700 miles of canals have been
built, in order to control the risk of flooding, to provide water for
Florida's growing population, and drain land for agriculture and
house-building. Today a large amount of the water that flows into Lake
Okeechobee is rapidly evacuated through man-made canals, out into the
The quality of the water entering the
Everglades has also suffered, as a result of increasing use of
phosphate fertilizers in the agricultural region to the north of Lake
The Everglades restoration program is
attempting to reverse the recent course of events, and undo some of the
damage. It calls for the removal of some 240 miles of canals and levees
and the creation of six enormous reservoirs to supply water for
Southern Florida's growing cities. In south west Florida, more than 20
miles of Highway 41 will need to be rebuilt. At present, this road cuts
right across the southern Everglades west of Miami, on a raised levee,
effectively cutting the area in half. The plan calls for twenty miles
of this levee to be replaced by bridges, allowing free flow of water
from one side to the other.
The Everglades rescue program was prompted
by the publication in 1998 of a 4000 page report, produced by the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers. According to the report, the Central and
Southern Florida (C&SF) water supply system was designed to
serve 2 million people, but more than 6 million people now live in the
area, and the population is expected to reach 12 to 15 million by 2050.
This explosive growth has strained
the system's ability to perform its intended functions, and the
Everglades are seriously threatened.
In a review published ion 2012, the US
national Research Council found that work to protect the
Everglades was moving at a very slow pace. Unless more
progress is made, the outlook for the future is not good, and large
parts of the Everglades' vital and remarkable ecosystems may be damaged
inheritance, patrimony - encroach:
advance - inhospitable:
uninhabitable decimate : massively reduce - swamp:
very wet land - scheme: system,
project - levee:
dyke, bank - prompt:
cause - strain:
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on other websites
in printed form without written permission from the publishers.
Reproduction is authorised exclusively for personal use by students, or
for use by teachers with their classes.
Replace the missing prepositions in this extract from the article
As a "wetland"
region, the whole environment ____ the Everglades depends ____ the
water ____ and ____ ____ its vast area ____ natural swampland.
Before modern agriculture and drainage schemes
began to change
the hydrology ____ the whole ____ southern Florida, water that fell
central part ____ the Florida Peninsula
used to flow regularly and naturally ____ the great Lake
large lake ____ the northern end ____ the Everglades region. ______
would flow ____ slowly and regularly ____ a southerly direction, ______
Everglades, and ____ the Gulf ____ Mexico.
the 1940's, this natural system has been radically modified. Some
____ canals have been built, ____ order to control the risk ____
provide water _____ Florida's growing population, and drain land _____
agriculture and house-building. Today a large amount ____ the water
____ Lake Okeechobee is rapidly evacuated ______ man-made canals, ____
1) The Everglades is..
or The Everglades are..
Both are acceptable; "the Everglades" is a unitary entity, therefore a
singular is justified; however the name has a plural form, so a plural
can be admitted too.
text is a good illustration of usage of the present perfect tense. As
you go through the text in class, have students note how tense choice
is often clearly determined by the adverb or adverb phrase of time that
When past time is determined
with reference to the present, then the present perfect is required:
words/phrases which do this include:
/ since / in the last... / over the last ....
In some cases these phrases are in the text (explicit), in other cases
they are often implied (implicit):
Over 1,700 miles of canals have been built
Generally speaking, note the different
forms of past tense used in this article, including used to
- both of
which are forms that imply habitual or repeated action. See
grammar: past tenses
3) Verbal nouns
Verbal nouns are a common feature of technical or formal English; we
tend to use them a lot less in spoken language.
Role Play: Saving the Everglades:
Imagine a forum organized by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and
the National Parks Service.
Distribute these roles to your students:
Representatives of :
Subject of the meeting:
- the GMCC,
- the NPS,
- the local Tourist Board,
- Florida Chamber of Agriculture,
- the Florida Taxpayers Association,
- the Highways Department,
- the Florida Development Agency.
Congress is asking Florida to
finance half the project. The Florida Taxpayers Association are 100%
opposed to this, as is the Chamber of Agriculture. Other groups want to
modify the plan, while Greenpeace, the Tourist Board and the NPS are
determined that it should go ahead, whatever the cost. Distribute roles
to students, and have each one prepare his role and his arguments for
homework. A lively - if not vigorous - argument can be expected in
Students should write a letter to the President, supporting or
criticizing the Everglades revival program.
The role play can be used as a pair work exercise, either involving two
students or one student and the teacher.
EFL teachers: Help develop this resource by contributing extra teaching
materials or exercises.
copyright Linguapress - 2015.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised