Image for What went right this week: saving the snow leopard, plus more positive news

What went right this week: saving the snow leopard, plus more positive news

A snow leopard conservation project was hailed a success, Britain was found to be ‘surprisingly’ united, and an electric plane took to the skies, plus more

A snow leopard conservation project was hailed a success, Britain was found to be ‘surprisingly’ united, and an electric plane took to the skies, plus more

Positive news
A project to save snow leopards scooped an award

It is one of the defining questions of our time: how do we save species while improving the lives of the world’s poorest people? One organisation in central Asia may have a solution. 

The India-based Snow Leopard Trust has pioneered a model of conservation that works with communities to protect the big cats in 12 countries, including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has implemented, among other things, insurance programmes to compensate herders when they lose livestock to snow leopards – a move designed to reduce retaliatory killings. 

The model has been hailed a success and this week its executive director, Dr Charudutt Mishra, won a Whitley Award, which celebrates solutions to the biodiversity crisis. The £100,000 prize will be used to export the model abroad.

Other winning initiatives include projects to protect red pandas, Sumatran rhinos and Brazil’s Araucaria forest. Danni Parks, director of the award, praised the winners for “addressing the interconnected crises of species extinction, climate change and social inequality”. 

Image: Snow Leopard Trust/Prasenjeet Yadav

Unity prevails in Britain, a report found

Despite attempts by some to divide Britain via the ‘culture wars’, a tolerant centre ground prevails across the land. 

That’s the conclusion of a report released by this week the Global Future thinktank. It reveals a “surprising and reassuring sense” of unity among Britons, even on supposedly divisive issues such as race and identity. 

Researchers found that four in five people believed in being attentive to racial and social justice issues – so-called ‘woke’ points of view – including many Brexit backers. 

Gurnek Bains, Global Future’s CEO, said: “With our media and politicians constantly drawing disproportionate attention to extremes in the culture wars, it is easy to forget the large and reasonable centre ground that is the majority.”

He added: “While this unity holds true today, we can’t be complacent about tomorrow. With continued pressure from elites, we know that the common ground can splinter.”

Image: King’s Church International 

Good news
A plan was hatched to boost community gardening

Imagine if all those neglected grass verges and scruffy scraps of land in towns and cities were used as spaces to cultivate food? Well, that’s what those behind the burgeoning ‘right to grow’ movement are calling for in the UK. 

Led by Incredible Edible – a network of more than 150 community gardening groups – the movement is campaigning for local authorities to keep a register of unused public land that is suitable for ‘community cultivation’.

The proposals appear to have cross-party support and could soon be introduced into the House of Commons as a private member’s bill: a move that could prove positive news for people and planet.

Image: Filip Urban

Sticking with food…

Substituting a fifth of the beef consumed globally with microbial protein, such as Quorn, could halve deforestation by 2050. 

That’s according to analysis by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), which for the first time attempted to predict the potential impact of market-ready meat substitutes. 

“We found that if we substituted 20 per cent of ruminant [hoofed herbivorous grazing mammals] meat per capita by 2050, annual deforestation and CO2 emissions from land-use change would be halved compared to a business-as-usual scenario,” said Florian Humpenöder, lead author of the study. 

Image: Anh Nguyen

A housing cooperative won an architecture award

A pioneering housing project that promotes community living has won an international award for emerging architecture. 

La Borda in Barcelona was built to provide affordable and sustainable accommodation for residents, while promoting intergenerational relationships and community integration.

It’s an ethos that saw it scoop the Mies van der Rohe Award for emerging architecture. Judges praised the “transgressive” building for promoting “co-ownership and co-management of shared resources”. 

Image: Mies van der Rohe

An electric plane took to the skies

A British-built aircraft is the latest battery powered plane to complete a test flight, as the race to decarbonise air travel accelerates. 

The Sherwood eKub aircraft completed two zero-emissions flights at Little Snoring airfield in Norfolk, England, last week. The first lasted 10 minutes, the second 22.

The plane was constructed by The Light Aircraft Company and piloted by Dr Guy Gratton, associate professor of aviation and the environment at Cranfield University, England. “This is a new way of flying,” he said. “We’re at the start of a steep learning curve”. 

Image: EnabEl

A multiple sclerosis vaccine showed promise

A vaccine, which could prevent a virus that is linked to multiple sclerosis, glandular fever and some cancers has shown promise in early trials.

US scientists have been working on a vaccine to helps the body detect pathogens of the harmful Epstein-Barr virus. Mice managed to develop antibodies against the virus after being vaccinated in trials.

“It was a very promising result because we were able to basically block the virus infection almost entirely and stop it from causing even low-level infection,” one of the scientists behind the vaccine told the New Scientist.

The vaccine is set to enter human trials in 2023.

Image: Towfiqu Barbhuiya

Positive news
Blackburn Rovers hosted Eid prayers on its pitch

Blackburn Rovers this week became the first English football club to host Eid prayers on its pitch.

Hundreds of people gathered at Ewood Park to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Monday.

Blackburn has been identified as one of Britain’s most racially divided towns. Yasir Sufi, development manager at Rovers, told ITV: “We are  one town, one club, one community. If there’s ever an event that we’ve done that signifies that, I think this definitely is it.”

The event was welcomed by supporters on social media. “Proud to be a Rover. Eid Mubarak,” said one.

Image: Blackburn Rovers
Main image: Snow Leopard Trust/Prasenjeet Yadav

What went right previously