Digest of Socio-Ecological Union International for January 15, 2022. №41

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 January 15, 2022. №41

The Monks Wood Wilderness experiment was a rewilding study before the term existed. This is what we can learn from it. In the archive of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology there is a typed note from the 1960s that planted the seed of an idea. Written by Kenneth Mellanby, director of the Monks Wood Experimental Station, a former research centre in Cambridgeshire, UK, the note describes a four-hectare arable field that lies next to the station and the ancient woodland of the Monks Wood National Nature Reserve. After harvesting a final barley crop, the field was ploughed and then abandoned in 1961. The note reads: “It might be interesting to watch what happens to this area if man does not interfere. Will it become a wood again, how long will it take, which species will be in it?”. A shrubland of thorn thickets emerged after the first 10 to 15 years. Dominated by bramble and hawthorn, its seeds were dropped by thrushes and other berry-eating birds. This thicket protected seedlings of wind-blown common ash and field maple, but especially English oak, whose acorns were planted by Eurasian jays (and maybe grey squirrels too) as forgotten food caches. It’s thought that jays were particularly busy in the Monks Wood Wilderness, as 52 per cent of the trees are oaks. The intermediate shrubland stage was a suntrap of blossom and wildflowers. Rabbits, brown hares, muntjac deer and roe deer were all common, but the protective thicket meant there was no need for fencing to prevent them eating the emerging trees. Those trees eventually rose up and closed their canopy above the thicket, which became the woodland understorey.

Roe deer were common, but not abundant enough to stymie tree growth. Image: Gaith Shalan

The result is a structurally complex woodland with multiple layers of tree and shrub vegetation, and accumulating deadwood as the habitat ages. This complexity offers niches for a wide variety of woodland wildlife, from fungi and invertebrates in the dead logs and branches, to song thrushes, garden warblers and nuthatches which nest in the ground layer, understorey and tree canopy. Read more

A South African court has ordered oil giant Shell to suspend plans for seismic blasting along the country’s Wild Coast, in a decision hailed by environmentalists. The Dutch oil giant is prospecting off the coast of Eastern Cape province for viable oil and gas reserves below the seabed. “The case is not just about Shell — it is about both protecting human rights and animal rights which are both enshrined in the constitution,” Nonhle Mbuthuma, founder of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), said in a statement in response to the Dec. 28 ruling. The ACC traces its origins to a movement to fight titanium mining in South Africa’s Pondoland region.

A protest against Shell’s seismic blasting plans in South Africa. Image courtesy of Greenpeace.

Conservation organizations are up in arms because of the potential impact on whale breeding grounds in the region. During the austral winter between July and December, southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrate into South Africa’s waters to give birth. Two applications were filed in South African courts by environmental groups, Indigenous rights groups, and tourism and fishing associations to halt the surveys. On Dec. 3, the court dismissed one of the applications, effectively allowing the seismic survey to proceed and sparking concern that the blasting would start before year-end. Read more

The People’s Republic of China, the French Republic, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America consider the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities. We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.  As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.  We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented. We reaffirm the importance of addressing nuclear threats and emphasize the importance of preserving and complying with our bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments.  We remain committed to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, including our Article VI obligation “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” Read more

A ban on selling most ivory products in Hong Kong came into effect Friday, the culmination of a three-year process to eliminate the once rampant trade in the city.

Seized endangered pangolin scales are displayed next to ivory elephant tusks during customs’ officials press conference on February 1, 2019. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP

Hong Kong lawmakers in 2018 backed a bill opting for a gradual phasing out of the trade — a move some conservationists at the time criticised as a loophole that could be exploited.  Friday’s new rules ban the “import, re-export, and commercial possession of elephant ivory”, but make an exception for antique pieces dating from before 1925. Offenders could face a maximum fine of HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) and 10 years’ imprisonment. Read more

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 46 cotton-farming families in Brazil’s Minas Gerais began practicing agroecology, a sustainable farming approach that works with nature. Working with a sustainable farming NGO, the farmers plant secondary and tertiary fruit and vegetable crops alongside their primary cotton crops, and eschew chemical fertilizers and pesticides in favor of organic alternatives.

They’ve had two harvests since they started, and in that short time have seen their cotton output triple and their yields of other crops increase by as much as seven times. The agroecology project has also helped revive the area’s cotton-spinning tradition, which was slowly dying out as agrochemical-tainted cotton triggered allergic reactions in the local artisans. Read more

President Joko Widodo’s administration announced last week that it was cancelling millions of hectares worth of logging, plantation and mining concessions. Environmental activists say this presents an opportunity to conserve these lands, which cover a combined area larger than Belgium, by redistributing them to local and Indigenous communities, and protecting areas still home to rainforest.

Auyu Indigenous peoples gather in protest in front of government offices in Boven Digoel district, Papua, Indonesia,. Indigenous peoples across Indonesia have been displaced from their home as the government issues licenses for businesses on their lands.  Image courtesy of Yayasan Pusaka.

However, some senior government officials say the concessions should be reissued to other companies to develop, and indicate that lands redistributed to communities will also be open to investors. Read more

New York has joined California, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts in requiring the biggest sources of food waste to donate excess food or recycle food waste. The hope is to keep food, and its related methane emissions, out of landfills. The new law took affect on January 1, 2021. The law, called the Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law, first passed in 2019. As of the start of this year, businesses and institutions with an average of two tons of food waste per week now must donate edible foods and recycle any food scraps, given that the business or institution is located within 25 miles of a facility that can process the scraps. While the law will help reduce food waste and related emissions, there are some caveats. This law does not apply to New York City, which already has similar Commercial Organics Requirements in place. These laws took affect in 2020, but the city has extended the warning period until July 2022 due to the pandemic. Hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, K-12 schools and farms are also excluded from the Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law. Read more

Three Extinction Rebellion activists who disrupted a London train during rush hour were acquitted by a jury Friday. The three defendants, who said they were motivated by their Christian faith, did not deny their actions. Instead, they argued that their protest was lawful under the Human Rights Act. ”When a jury hears the truth about the escalating climate crisis, with the depth and seriousness they won’t get from the government or the media, they understand the urgent need to act,” Extinction Rebellion’s Zoë Blackler said in a statement emailed to EcoWatch. “The real criminals here aren’t 3 committed Christians who are risking their liberty to sound the alarm on a threat of existential proportions. The real crime lies with a government failing to do what’s necessary to safeguard the future of the human race.”

Extinction Rebellion activists Father Martin Newell and Reverend Sue Parfitt were two of three who were acquitted Friday after blocking a train during London’s rush hour in 2019. Photo credit: Victoria Jones / PA Images / Getty Images

Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79; Father Martin Newell, 54; and former university lecturer Phil Kingston, 85 conducted their protest on October 17, 2019, The Independent reported. The three activists disrupted a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) train at London’s Shadwell Station for 77 minutes, delaying or canceling around 15 trains. Read more

 

 

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