Digest of Socio-Ecological Union International for December 25, 2021. №40

Dear friends and co-fighters,

Welcome to the next issue of Positive News.

Let you spread it among your friends and co-fighters in your countries and around the Earth.

I will be glad to receive and publish your positive news from the fields and offices.

Sviatoslav Zabelin, SEU coordinator

 

Digest of Socio-Ecological Union International for December 25, 2021. №40

 

In the year of its 33rd anniversary (24.12.1988), the Socio-Ecological Union has taken another powerful step to strengthen the environmental and human rights movement in Russia. The program of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union to support eco-activists and the All-Russian environmental movement "WE LIVE HERE!" launched a joint initiative to support environmental activists - the Ecological Crisis Group (ECG). ECG Website.

It will contain regular reviews, as well as analytics and information on the support of eco-activists. Telegram channel "Support for eco-activists" will publish regular news on how to support defenders of nature and environmental rights who are under pressure. Visit help-eco.info only Russian

Now, a study published in Science Thursday offers some hopeful news for a change: previously forested land can return to nearly 80 percent of its old-growth status if it’s left alone for just 20 years. “That’s good news, because the implication is that, 20 years … that’s a realistic time that I can think of, and that my daughter can think of, and that the policymakers can think of,” lead author and functional ecology professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands Lourens Poorter told The Guardian.

Deforestation in Venezuela for cattle ranching. Christiane Pelda / CC BY-SA 3.0

The researchers were interested in how fast secondary forests can regrow. Secondary forests are forests that regrow on their own after a piece of land has been cleared for human use, usually to plant crops or raise cattle, a Wageningen University press release explained. An international team of more than 90 researchers considered how 12 different forest attributes recover by looking at 77 landscapes and 2,275 forest plots in the American and West African tropics, The Guardian explained. They used models to assess how the forests would recover, using a process called chronosequencing. What they found was that the different attributes recover at different rates, according to the study. Soil can recover to 90 percent of its old-growth status in less than 10 years, plant function in less than 25 years, structure and biodiversity in 25 to 60 years and biomass and species composition in little over a century. However, overall the previously-cleared land would return to 78 percent of its old growth status in just 20 years. The results indicate that letting forests regrow naturally may be a better way to protect biodiversity and fight the climate crisis than growing new trees in plantations. “Compared to planting new trees, it performs way better in terms of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and recovering nutrients,” Poorter told The Guardian. Read more

Microbes in oceans and soils across the globe are evolving to eat plastic, according to a study. The research scanned more than 200m genes found in DNA samples taken from the environment and found 30,000 different enzymes that could degrade 10 different types of plastic. The study is the first large-scale global assessment of the plastic-degrading potential of bacteria and found that one in four of the organisms analysed carried a suitable enzyme. The researchers found that the number and type of enzymes they discovered matched the amount and type of plastic pollution in different locations. The results “provide evidence of a measurable effect of plastic pollution on the global microbial ecology”, the scientists said. Millions of tonnes of plastic are dumped in the environment every year, and the pollution now pervades the planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans.

Plastic washed ashore on Berawa Beach, Bali, Indonesia. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Reducing the amount of plastic used is vital, as is the proper collection and treatment of waste. But many plastics are currently hard to degrade and recycle. Using enzymes to rapidly break down plastics into their building blocks would enable new products to be made from old ones, cutting the need for virgin plastic production. The new research provides many new enzymes to be investigated and adapted for industrial use. “We found multiple lines of evidence supporting the fact that the global microbiome’s plastic-degrading potential correlates strongly with measurements of environmental plastic pollution – a significant demonstration of how the environment is responding to the pressures we are placing on it,” said Prof Aleksej Zelezniak, at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Read more

In November, New Yorkers voted to add 15 words to the Bill of Rights of the New York State Constitution, stating that “each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”

Markus Spiske / Pexels

With the passage of this amendment, New York joins Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, which all have similar constitutional provisions for environmental protection. The measure received overwhelming support at the ballot box; nearly 70% of voters voted “yes” on Proposal 2 to adopt the ballot measure. The Environmental Advocates of New York, who supported the amendment, say that including these environmental rights in the Constitution will “provide the same fundamental protections that we provide to our rights to free speech, freedom of religion, due process and property,” and sends a message that environmental health is of equal importance. With this new right to a healthful environment, citizens have a tool for fighting back when those rights are threatened, and governments must consider human and environmental health when making decisions. Some energy experts have said that the amendment might also discourage developers from pursuing fossil fuel projects in the state, and give strength to lawsuits against polluters. Read more

The Italian Senate has voted to approve an amendment to the budget law that will close the remaining ten mink farms in Italy within six months and ban fur farming throughout the country. The decision came about after talks with Humane Society International/Europe, which offered practical strategies in its report Mink breeding in Italy: Mapping and future perspectives for closing fur farms and converting them into businesses that are humane and sustainable.

Mink look out from their cage at a farm in Denmark on Nov. 6, 2020. MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP via Getty Images

Following approval of the resolution by Parliament, Italy will become the 16th European country to ban fur farming. The amendment requires all active fur farms in Italy be closed by June 30, 2022. It also includes an immediate ban on the breeding of mink, foxes, raccoon dogs and chinchillas, according to Humane Society International. To help ease the transition, fur farmers will be compensated €3 million by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2022, reported VegNews. Read more

The rights of nature prevailed in Ecuador. Ecuador’s highest court has ruled that plans to mine for metal in a protected cloud forest violate the rights of nature – a landmark decision described as a “historic victory” for the planet. Los Cedros cloud forest in the north-east of the country is a hotbed of biodiversity, home to spider monkeys, rare orchids and hundreds of bird species.

Image: The Other Kev

It also holds deposits of copper and gold, which Ecuador’s national mining company – Enami EP – had been given permits to extract. Those permits are now being revoked after Ecuador’s constitutional court ruled that mining in the reserve would violate the rights of nature, which were enshrined in the country’s constitution in 2008 – a world first. Until this week, those rights had yet to translate into legal rulings. “This is a historic victory in favour of nature,” said Natalia Greene of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, an NGO. “This sets a great juridical precedent to continue with other threatened protected forests. [Nature] has won an unprecedented battle.” Read more

Elusive Andean cat, thought to exist only in extremely remote rocky outcrops, caught on camera close to Santiago city. On the screen displaying the conservationist’s latest video capture is an Andean cat – the most endangered feline in the Americas.

Looking a little like a miniature snow leopard, the 4kg (9lb) male enters the frame and begins spray-marking the shrubs at the base of the cliff, before stealing away through sharp rocks with his banded brown and grey tail aloft. Segura is excited for many reasons. With a shrinking population of fewer than 1,400 mature Andean cats left, any sighting is good. But this one heralds a signal of hope in a different way for the species and the conservationists battling against the cats’ extinction because it confirms a new population living close to humans – on the very edge of Santiago, a city of eight million people. Read more

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We wish all of you good health, well-being, and much Joy this holiday.

Keep always focused on the Light.

With much love, gratitude and prayers for unity.

Jadwiga with Julian from Poland

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