Image for What went right this week: reviving Britain’s ‘lost’ rainforests, plus more

What went right this week: reviving Britain’s ‘lost’ rainforests, plus more

Britain’s rainforests got a boost, Europe embraced slow travel, and the UK’s green sector defied the economic gloom, plus more

Britain’s rainforests got a boost, Europe embraced slow travel, and the UK’s green sector defied the economic gloom, plus more

This week’s good news roundup

Britain’s rainforests got a boost

It might surprise readers to learn that Britain even has temperate rainforests, but fragments of these habitats remain along the Atlantic coast – and this week a project launched to expand them. 

On Wednesday, the Wildlife Trusts, a conservation charity, embarked on a 100-year initiative to protect and enlarge Britain’s temperate rainforests, thanks to a £38m donation from the insurance firm Aviva. 

Rainforests grew all along the Atlantic coast of Britain hundreds of years ago, but now cover less than 1 per cent of the island. They are vital carbon sinks, bastions of biodiversity and inspire awe. With the climate and nature crises intensifying, restoring them is an obvious solution. 

“These woods are magical and much loved by those who visit and live near them,” said Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts. “We’re looking forward to working with communities to bring back rainforests along the Atlantic coast.”

Image: The Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest

Good news
Speaking of rainforests…

The US government has agreed to reinstate restrictions on logging and road building in the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest. 

Alaska’s 17m-acre Tongass national park was stripped of its safeguards under the Trump administration. The wilderness is the ancestral homeland of Indigenous peoples, and is a refuge for grizzly bears, bald eagles and other wildlife. 

“This is great news for the forest, the salmon, the wildlife, and the people who depend on intact ecosystems to support their ways of life and livelihoods,” said Kate Glover, a senior attorney for Earthjustice, an environmental law organisation.

However, the move was criticised by Alaska’s Republican governor Mike Dunleavy, who said it stymied economic opportunities in the region. 

Image: Riley

Positive news
Europe embraced slow travel

A night train from Amsterdam to Barcelona is one of 10 new routes approved by the European Commission this week, as it attempts to boost green travel on the continent. 

Adina Vălean, the European commissioner for transport, said the proposed services would help “break down the many barriers to cross-border rail” at a time when more people are embracing slow, low-carbon travel.  

Other approved routes include a sleeper train from Stockholm to Berlin, and a Prague to Copenhagen service. 

Image: Den Belitsky/iStock   

Good news
Urban trees save lives, a study found

Doubling tree cover in European cities could reduce heat-related deaths by a third, according to a new study. 

The ‘urban heat island effect’ – where the built environment amplifies the temperature in cities – is a growing public health concern. Research shows that for every 1C rise in temperature, heat-related deaths rise by up to 3 per cent.  

Positing a solution this week was an international team of researchers. They suggested that if cities increased the level of tree cover – from the European average of 14.9 per cent to 30 per cent – urban temperatures could fall by 0.4C, reducing heat-related deaths by 39.5 per cent. 

“Urban trees provide substantial public health and environmental benefits,” the researchers wrote. “By increasing tree coverage, premature deaths in European cities can be reduced.” 

Image: Margarida Louro

Black barbers gave poor mental health the chop

Customers at barber shops in Islington, London, are getting more than just a trim thanks to a pioneering mental health project aimed at young black men. 

Under the initiative, which Positive News reported on this week, barbers are being trained as mental health first aiders.

It’s in response to figures that show black men in Britain are 17 times more likely than white men to be diagnosed with a serious mental illness.

Read the full story here. 

Image: Martine Severin/iStock

The UK’s economic woes had a green lining

In a week when the International Monetary Fund forecast the UK to be the only major economy to contract this year, there was some good news: the country’s net-zero economy is booming. 

That’s according to a report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU). It suggested that net zero efforts are worth £70bn to the UK economy, and that green jobs pay more, with salaries averaging £42,600 compared to a national average of £33,4000. 

The report said that firms involved in the energy transition have brought jobs and investment to parts of the UK that were experiencing industrial decline, such as Tyneside, Merseyside and Derbyshire. It calculated that 840,0000 jobs are now linked to the net zero industry. 

“From insulation fitters to heat pump engineers and agritech pioneers, businesses in the net zero economy are adding £70bn to the UK economy,” said Peter Chalkley, director of ECIU. “The net zero economy is addressing levelling-up and the UK’s productivity problem, but with the EU and US investing heavily in clean technologies, the question now is will the UK keep up?”

Image: Shaun Dakin

Heat pumps
Speaking of the energy transition…

In an industry first, a UK house builder has pledged to install air source heat pumps instead of gas boilers on all detached homes from this month. 

The UK is currently bottom of Europe’s heat pump installation league table, fitting fewer than 50,0000 annually. Redrow, which builds 5,000 homes annually, is unlikely to change the country’s fortunes on its own, but it does put pressure on other developers to follow suit. 

Air source heat pumps are around four times more efficient than gas boilers, and can run on renewable energy. However, they can cost more to operate than gas boilers because electricity is more expensive than gas. 

Image: Harmvdb

An improbable punk scene took root in England

It introduced the world to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and The Specials. Now the Midlands, England, has spawned another new music scene, consisting exclusively of all-female, middle-aged punk bands. 

What started with one performance in a sticky-floored venue in Leicester has morphed into the Unglamorous Music project, which so far has helped to launch seven bands.

And as Positive News reported this week, albums are coming soon. Read the full story here. 

Image: Unglamorous Music
Main image: Guy Shrubsole

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