7-Mile ‘Bee Corridor’ of Wildflowers Will Feed London’s Pollinators This Summer
It's a scary time for the world's pollinators. A study published in February warned that more than 40 percent of the world's insects could go extinct within the next 30 years. Another study published in Nature in March found that a third of wild pollinator species in the UK had declined since 1980.
But one North London council has a plan to fight this trend: a seven-mile "bee corridor" of wildflowers seeded through Brent Council's parks and green spaces.
"Bees and other insects are so important for pollinating the crops that provide the food that we eat," Brent Councillor Krupa Sheth told London's Evening Standard. "We must do all we can to help them to thrive."
Seven mile long corridor of wildflowers has been created in the London borough of Brent and should be ready for pol… https://t.co/uOJTDyDGqw— BBKA (@BBKA)1557127203.0
The corridor will combine 22 wildflower meadows and should be in bloom this summer. The flowers will help not only bees, but also butterflies, dragonflies and moths.
"The team curated the mix of wildflowers with bees and other insects in mind, choosing varieties that would attract these pollinators," Projects Manager Kelly Eaton said, as BBC News reported.
That mix included ragged robin, cowslip and common poppy. Workers are currently plowing the selected meadows and will then begin planting. The council said it believed the initiative was the first of its kind in London, according to The Independent.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn called the corridor a "fantastic initiative" in a Tweet Monday.
Bees are vital to the environment and are important pollinators - a third of the human diet is from plants that are… https://t.co/fdBFizaXmF— Jeremy Corbyn (@Jeremy Corbyn)1557136300.0
The decline in wildflowers and other natural habitat in the UK has been cited as one reason for the decline in pollinators. Since World War II, more than 97 percent of the country's wildflower meadows have disappeared, The Independent reported. Other likely reasons for the decline of bees and other pollinators are pesticide use and climate change, according to the March study.
Wonderful chat with @GregMcTweets & @VanessaOnAir on @BBCRadioLondon this morning about @Brent_Council’s exciting n… https://t.co/itZY9Yb4HW— Cllr Krupa Sheth (@Cllr Krupa Sheth)1557304244.0
Brent Council announced the plan the same week as a major UN report on biodiversity, which warned that human activities had caused wild mammal populations to fall 82 percent since 1980, halved the space occupied by natural ecosystems and continue to threaten one million species with extinction, according to The Independent.
"The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human well-being," UN Biodiversity Chief Robert Watson said ahead of the report's release. "Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come."
In this context, the "bee corridor" could be seen as a small part of the solution.
"I'm proud of Brent's commitment to boost biodiversity in the borough and look forward to seeing the meadows in full bloom in just a few months' time," Sheth said, as The Independent reported.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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