Image for What went right this week: a bold plan to save rhinos, plus more positive news

What went right this week: a bold plan to save rhinos, plus more positive news

A first-of-its-kind scheme launched to save rhinos, Brussels offered people €900 to ditch their cars, and drought-prone African nations got some good news, plus more

A first-of-its-kind scheme launched to save rhinos, Brussels offered people €900 to ditch their cars, and drought-prone African nations got some good news, plus more

A first-of-a-kind conservation initiative launched

Years of poaching have pushed South Africa’s black rhinos to the brink. Could a first-of-its-kind conservation initiative turn the tide?

The scheme, launched by the World Bank, brings the principles of corporate finance to wildlife conservation, in the form of a $150m (£114m) five-year ‘rhino bond’.

The bond will fund rhino protection, and investors will get a return on their money if the population grows. After five years they will also receive their investment back, which would be covered by donors. If numbers drop, investors may lose their money. 

The scheme represents a new approach to conservation financing because it passes risk to investors and allows donors to pay for successful conservation outcomes. It remains to be seen to what extent investors will be willing to take the risk.

Dr Andrew Terry of the Zoological Society of London, which helped develop the bond, said its launch was “a watershed moment for wildlife conservation”. 

Image: David Clode

Sticking with rare animals…

A blind eel that was found living in the grounds of a school for blind children is among the ‘new’ species that scientists introduced to the world this week. 

Some 212 previously undiscovered freshwater species were unveiled in the New Species 2021 report, released by the conservation organisation Shoal. 

The Mumbai blind eel was found in a well at a school for blind children in India. Other notable discoveries include a fish with a visible brain (pictured) and a killer stingray. 

“New species are pieces of the evolutionary puzzle we did not know existed, and because of that we have no idea what they may have to offer,” said marine biologist Dr Ralf Britz. 

Image: Ralf Britz/Shoal

Good news
Drought-prone African nations got some good news

There is enough groundwater under the African continent for most countries there to survive at least five years of drought, according to research by WaterAid and the British Geological Survey.

However, the study also revealed that underinvestment in services to get the water out of the ground means that millions of people don’t have enough safe, clean water to meet their needs.

“Our findings debunk the myth that Africa is running out of water,” said Tim Wainwright, chief executive of WaterAid UK. “There are vast reserves of water right under people’s feet. Tapping into [it] would ensure millions have access to safe, clean water no matter what the climate crisis throws at them.”

Image: Alkags

Statins were found to lower the risk of Parkinson’s

Older people who take statins have a lower chance of developing Parkinson’s disease than those who don’t, according to a study. 

Experts at the American Academy of Neurology tracked 3,000 people with an average age of 76, a third of whom were taking statins. Their findings? Those taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs were on average 16 per cent less likely to develop signs of Parkinson’s. 

“Our results suggest people using statins may have a lower risk of Parkinsonism and that may be partly caused by the protective effect statins may have on arteries in the brain,” said study author Shahram Oveisgharan. “More research is needed, but statins could be a therapeutic option in the future.”

Image: Freddy Kearney

Brussels motorists were offered €900 to ditch their cars

The race to drive cars out of cities has stepped up a gear in Brussels, where motorists are being offered €900 (£750) to ditch their motors for greener transport.

The Bruxell’air scheme first launched in 2006 in response to poor air quality and maddening levels of congestion in the Belgian capital. Payments were set at €500 (£416), but are now being ramped up to lure more people out of their cars. 

The scheme is not unique. Coventry in England is giving motorists £3,000 in transport vouchers if they give up their cars as part of a first-in-the-UK pilot scheme. 

Image: Ssalae

Research revealed the hidden benefits of forests

The case for forests is compelling enough already – we know they absorb carbon, reduce flooding and support wildlife. But a study published this week suggests they play a greater role in cooling Earth than previously thought. 

Scientists behind the research found that forests keep global temperatures up to half a degree cooler because of the way they physically alter the air and water around them. Hitherto, research has focused mostly on the carbon storing potential of forests. 

“The role of forests in addressing climate change extends beyond the traditional concept of CO2 mitigation,” the study concluded. “The biophysical effects of forest cover can contribute significantly to solving local adaptation challenges, such as extreme heat and flooding, at any latitude.”

Image: Jakob Owens

The humble hedge became the focus of a study

Hedges: they absorb carbon, clean the air, support wildlife and slow floodwater. No wonder they’re being touted as a solution to climate change and biodiversity loss. But which ones are best? 

This week, the UK’s Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) launched a study to find out. Researchers will look into the best combinations of hedges for urban areas – information that could inform planning decisions and further boost cities’ credentials as hotspots of biodiversity. 

Image: Jon Tyson

Pets will soon eat lab-grown meat
A firm launched to produce lab-grown pet food

Around one fifth of the meat produced globally is fed to pets. What if it was grown in labs? In the UK, it soon will be, after a firm was launched to bring lab-grown pet food to market. 

Good Dog Food is a joint venture between two disruptive food tech companies – Agronomics and Roslin Technologies – which are bent on making the pet food industry more sustainable. 

Read the full Positive News story here.

Image: James Barker
Main image: Lucas Alexander

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