Positive Eco News From July 2021: Life Among The Ashes?

Summer is well underway, and with that comes plenty of opportunity to embrace the wonderful outdoors and nature around us.

But to enjoy it we need to protect it, and looking after our environment has never been as important as it is now. We must continue to strive towards change, take positive action, and all do our bit, so that we can enjoy the beauty of the world for generations to come.

This month, we’ve seen plenty of positive action happening across the UK in the fight against climate change, and a world-first ban in Argentina…

Source: Unplash.com

The UK to ‘suck CO2 from the atmosphere’ in bid to hit 2050 reduction target

The UK has launched a £30m project funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKIR) to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions in the country and hit the 2050 reduction target of net zero, after failing to reduce emissions rapidly enough to date. Thank goodness!

To battle the climate crisis, trials will begin over a 100 hectare area in the UK over the next 4 and a half years, to find ways to effectively “suck carbon dioxide from the air” using 5 innovative, natural resources: trees, peatlands, biochar, perennial bioenergy crops (like grasses) and rock chips. Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), part of UKRI, Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, explains that “These projects will investigate how we can actively remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere using innovative technologies at the scale required to protect our planet.”.

Leading the trials is University of Oxford Professor Cameron Hepburn, who said “This is seriously exciting and pretty much world leading. Nobody really wants to be in the situation of having to suck so much CO2 from the atmosphere. But that’s where we are – we’ve delayed [climate action] for too long.”

California’s Redwood Forest shows life after burning in last August wildfires

After the devastation of last year’s wildfires in California’s Big Basin State Park, signs of new life are starting to reemerge.

What started from a series of 11,000 lightning bolts, multiple fires broke out across Northern California last year, eventually merging together to create what was known as CZU Complex fire. The fire wiped out a whopping 97% of the Big Basin State Park, a conservation area and the state of California’s oldest park that’s filled with mighty Redwood trees – some of the world’s longest living species.

To date, many of the trees still smoulder – some 11 months later! – but signs of life have returned to the park, bringing hope for the restoration of the natural beauty, and a powerful reminder of our planet’s resilience. Wildflowers are growing among the rubble, shoots are sprouting through blackened bark and there are many signs of animals returning to their homes after escaping the blaze.

Senior environmental scientist with California State Parks, Joanne Kerbavaz, shared her sadness at the loss of the park as she once knew it, but went on to say that “as an ecologist, part of [her] is thrilled by the opportunity to watch how the redwood forest recovers.”.

First baby beaver born in UK in 400 years

The National Trust has announced that a baby beaver has been born in their Holnicote Estate in Somerset.

Beavers were once native to the UK, but back in the 1500s were hunted for their fur, meat and glands, subsequently making them extinct across the country. They were reintroduced in 2020 in a bid to restore wetland habitats, and are now said to be “thriving”!

The reintroduced beaver pair successfully mated, and have since given birth to the first wild baby beaver, or ‘kit’, on Exmoor National Park in 400 years, which has now been spotted on camera for the first time.

Ben Eardley, National Trust project manager at Holnicote said: “The beavers are doing a lot of what we want to see in terms of conservation and land management. They are letting the light and the water into the site, helping natural processes and providing opportunities for a host of other wildlife.”.

Source: Unsplash.com

Extinct orchid makes a comeback on London’s rooftops

Having not been recorded since 1989, a colony of small-flowered tongue-orchids have been spotted growing on the rooftop of a London bank.

Incredibly, the 15 plants are now thought to be the entire known wild UK population, after a land mismanagement incident, in Cornwall in 2009, wiped out what was thought to be the last of the flowers!

Argentina steps up to be the first country to ban open-net salmon farming

The last news on our lists takes us away from the UK and over to Argentina, where they’ve become the first country to officially ban open-net salmon farming in its southernmost province.

After concerns about the impact of the practice’s effect on the marine environment, which consists of keeping large nets in open water to grow and produce hundreds and thousands of salmon, a bill has been passed by the provincial legislature in Tierra del Fuego to stop plans to create the country’s first farm from opening.

Farms of this nature are currently used in Scotland, Chile and Norway, and have become a plague on the natural environment causing outbreaks of sea lice and other infections to spread, killing millions of fish in the process.

Pablo Villegas, the local politician that presented the bill against the farm, said: “Saying no to salmon farms is possible. If we work with our head and heart, with conviction, commitment, passion, and responsibility, that translates into achievements.”.

Rewilding Argentina NGO campaign member, David López Katz, added: “This law is an example of caring for a sustainable economic and productive model, which respects cultural traditions and artisan practices that generate genuine jobs”.

Which positive eco news stories from this month did you discover? Let us know on Instagram @wearthlondon!