Image for What went right this week: East Anglia rewilding and other good news stories

What went right this week: East Anglia rewilding and other good news stories

Encouraging coronavirus vaccine results, a plan to create bee highways and an ambitious rewilding scheme in East Anglia were among the good news this week

Encouraging coronavirus vaccine results, a plan to create bee highways and an ambitious rewilding scheme in East Anglia were among the good news this week

Good news this week: a foundation launched to rewild East Anglia
Foundation launched to rewild East Anglia

The rewilding movement was given another boost this week with the launch of a charitable foundation that aims to turn 250,000 hectares of East Anglia – an area one and a half times the size of London – over to nature by 2070. It follows the announcement last week that bison will be reintroduced to Kent after an absence of thousands of years.

The Wild East foundation was launched by three farmers: Hugh Somerleyton, Argus Hardy and Olly Birkbeck (main image), who want people in East Anglia to create space for nature on “farmyards, churchyards, backyards and industrial estates” with the eventual aim of potentially reintroducing species like the lynx (inset) there. The foundation will also teach local children about the importance of biodiversity.

“In order to have a nature recovery it cannot exist in hotspots, it has to exist everywhere,” Somerleyton told Positive News. “We want to focus on a little nature everywhere rather than a lot of nature in one area.” 

Image: Zdenek Machacek

New wildflower highways planned to reverse insect declines
Wildflower corridor scheme launched to boost insects

The red lines crisscrossing the map of England could be mistaken for roads – and in a sense they are. Only instead of being for cars and trucks, the wildflower highways are designed to carry bees and other pollinators, as part of an effort to stop the decline of insects.

The B-Lines project has been set up by conservation charity, Buglife, which has identified potential routes for wildflower corridors in England and published them online. The charity is now encouraging people to sow seeds along the routes to help ailing pollinators.

“A complete England B-Lines network is a real landmark step in our mission to reverse insect declines and lend a helping hand to our struggling pollinators,” said Catherine Jones, pollinator officer at Buglife. Read more here

Image: Aaron Burden

There was good news this week from coronavirus vaccine trials
Encouraging results in vaccine trials

Trials of potential Covid-19 vaccines have raised hopes of an effective treatment. Early results from two US trials, run by the biotech company Moderna and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, indicate that both their vaccines produce a good immune response in volunteers.

Scientists behind the University of Oxford’s potential Covid-19 vaccine, meanwhile, have reported “the right sort of immune response” in their trial and will publish further details on Monday.

According to the Guardian, there are 33 potential coronavirus vaccines in clinical trials around the world. It is too soon to tell whether any of them will work.

Image: Fusion Medical Animation

New washing machine filters could prevent microplastics entering the ocean
Washing machine filters prevent microfibers entering ocean

Trillions of microfibers could be prevented from entering the oceans every week thanks to a new washing machine filter. That’s according to scientists at the University of Plymouth, who have tested a range of filters for effectiveness.

Their research said a product called XFiltra captured around 80 per cent of microfibers. Previous research found that up to 700,000 microfibres can be flushed into the drain from a single load of synthetic clothing.

The results will strengthen calls for the UK to follow France in making microfiber filters compulsory in all washing machines from 2025. “But perhaps the most overarching change would be to design garments to last longer and shed less fibres in the first place,” said Richard Thompson OBE, head of the university’s international marine litter research unit.

Image: Annie Spratt

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Asheville in the US has approves reparations for slavery
US city approves reparations for slavery

The city council in Asheville, North Carolina (pictured) voted this week to compensate black people and apologised for its historic role in slavery and ongoing institutional racism.

It is understood the money will come not in the form of direct payments, but of investment in areas where black people still face discrimination including healthcare, education and employment. The vote followed recent Black Lives Matters protests in the US sparked by the killing of George Floyd.  

The concept of reparations is contentious. Critics argue against it, reasoning that nobody alive today is responsible for slavery, which was outlawed in the US in 1865. In 2016, President Obama said reparations could distract from the harder work of tackling institutional racism and improving social mobility for impoverished Americans of all races.

Image: Warren LeMay

A project launched to monitor carbon emissions in real time
Project launched to monitor emissions in real time

There is a hackneyed saying in the business world: “what gets measured gets managed”. The team behind a new project to track carbon emissions in real time hope this rings true as they harness artificial intelligence, satellite image processing and machine learning to trace all carbon emissions direct to their source.

Launched this week, the Climate TRACE (Tracking Real-time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions) project is spearheaded by former US vice president Al Gore and a coalition of organisations, which are optimistic of having a first version of the system ready by summer 2021.

“In order to achieve a zero-carbon future, we need a comprehensive accounting of where pollution is coming from,” said Gore. “Climate TRACE holds the promise to revolutionise global efforts to measure and reduce emissions across every sector of society, creating a new era of unprecedented transparency and accountability.” Read more here.

Image: Marcin Jozwiak

Community Municipal Investment empowers people to loan money to their local council to help fund green developments
New platform allows people to invest in sustainable development

This week Positive News reported on a new platform that lets people loan money to their local council to help fund green developments in their area.

Individuals can invest as little as £5 and receive returns on their loans. The Community Municipal Investment (CMI) will be offered to the public by local authorities, via the crowdfunding platform Abundance.

The first council to sign up for the CMI pilot is West Berkshire, which wants to use the scheme to fund projects including installing rooftop solar panels on council-owned properties such as schools.

Image: Ross Smiling