Along with cleaning, prevention is another of our themes today. The UN is committed to developing disaster early warning systems for everyone around the world. And in Zimbabwe, women protect wildlife and benefit from jobs in a trained anti-poaching force.
1. United States
More than 355,950 pounds of trash was removed from the Ohio River last year. The debris – which includes everything from messages in bottles to a Civil War-era mortar shell – was collected by the nonprofit Living Lands & Waters, whose small paid crew live and work aboard its four garbage collection barges for up to nine months at a time. A barge transports its excavator, multiplying the efforts of volunteers who collected more than half a million pounds of trash from the Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee, Rock, Illinois, Des Plaines and Cuyahoga rivers in 2021. As and as they move downstream, they hold clean-up and tree-planting events, as well as educational sessions, for volunteers who join them on land, on the barge or in the johnboats.
Why we wrote this
People sometimes depend on waterways to transport their waste, but the problem does not go away. In our roundup of progress, volunteers clean up litter from the river by the ton, and others do something useful from the litter left on the beach by fishermen cleaning up their catch.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, how old you are, how young you are or what political party you belong to – it doesn’t matter because nobody likes to see trash in the river,” said Chad Pregracke, the association’s founder. “Especially if you know that your city or town’s drinking water comes from there.”
The Groundtruth Project
An all-female ranger unit fights poaching in Zimbabwe. Akashinga – the “brave” in the Shona language – has become a force of 200 men patrolling eight reserves in rural areas of Zimbabwe, where women can struggle to earn a living.
The group is armed, raising criticism that a militarized approach does not address the root causes of poaching, such as poverty. At the same time, the Akashinga unit says it is focused on reducing poaching through community engagement and teaching about the economic benefits of conservation.
Having an all-female team “usually defuses tension,” founder Damien Mander said. Its International Anti-Poaching Foundation said rangers have arrested more than 300 poachers without firing a shot, while helping to reduce elephant poaching by 80% in the area they operate. Research from a consultancy firm that focused on three all-female ranger units – South Africa’s Black Mambas, Kenya’s Team Lioness and Akashinga – found no instances of corruption in the ranks, suggesting broader inclusion of women in anti-poaching efforts. against corruption in the sector.
“The opportunity to become a ranger came when I needed it most,” said Margaret Darawanda, a single mother who now plans to go to college with the money she earned. . “I am now able to take care of my mother, my child and my community. »
Thomson Reuters Foundation, International Anti-Poaching Foundation
Walruses have returned to Norway in large numbers. Atlantic walruses in the Svalbard archipelago, a major habitat, have been nearly driven out of existence after 300 years of commercial hunting. Amid massive population decline, the Norwegian government instituted a ban on walrus hunting in 1952.
In 2006, there were 2,629 long-toothed mammals on Svalbard. In 2018, the last time a population count was taken, that number had risen to 5,503, a lesson in how nature can heal itself if humans give it space. It is now common to see herds sunbathing on the shores of the archipelago. With around 230,000 walruses worldwide, the species is considered vulnerable by conservationists. The British Antarctic Survey and the World Wildlife Fund are hiring citizen scientists in their Walrus From Space program to help read satellite photos, count animals and learn more about how they are affected by climate change.
Smithsonian Magazine, British Antarctic Survey
Discarded parts of slaughtered and cleaned fish are turned into fertilizer – supplementing income and cleaning up beaches. Coastal residents have been stuck with increasing amounts of fish waste dumped on the shore after fish have been prepared for sale. But a training and equipment program by India’s Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture is an example of the circular economy being brought to people whose livelihoods depend on the sea, says CIBA’s Debasis De.
Scientists trained fishermen in Chennai to create two products: PlanktonPlus, to support healthy plankton in aquaculture projects, and HortiPlus, an organic fertilizer. The products are produced with simple machinery and a patented enzyme and sold to farmers. “Fish waste is a major concern in a densely populated country like India,” said Dr. De, CIBA’s Waste to Wealth Program Team Leader. “This makes the coast unhealthy and uninhabitable for fishing communities.” While CIBA sells the equipment needed to process fish waste, it also donates it to those eligible for financial assistance.
The United Nations has pledged to provide early warning services to every person on Earth within five years. The UN’s World Meteorological Organization aims to expand systems, especially for the third of the world’s population that is not covered, often small island nations that are more prone to climate change-related disasters. In Africa, 60% of the population has no coverage that warns of floods, droughts, heat waves or storms.
Beyond flashing alerts or cellphone text messages, the UN is looking at a variety of ways to alert people, especially in areas with low phone ownership – from radio broadcasts to naming people in remote villages to make announcements over megaphones. The World Meteorological Organization plans to present a $1.5 billion action plan at the COP 27 climate change summit in Egypt in November.
“Early warning systems save lives,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message. “Let’s make sure they work for everyone.”