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POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: ‘Historic’ law to turn Welsh farming sustainable, plus more

Posted 30th September 2022 • Written by •

A new law in Wales will see farmers paid to enhance ecosystems, research hots up on cold water swimming, gay rights got a boost in Cuba, and Nasa crashed into an asteroid for good reason, plus more positive news

A new law in Wales backs sustainable farming

Wales will plough its own furrow with agricultural reforms designed to battle climate change by paying farmers for protecting nature.

The Welsh government said its “historic” Agriculture Bill, which has been in the making since the 2016 Brexit vote, will back sustainable farming. A new subsidy scheme will be rolled out to support the sector’s role in environmental stewardship.

The step is seen as a stark counterpoint to rumours that plans for similar measures over the border in England face being scrapped by Westminster. Defra has confirmed that the Environment Land Management Scheme, currently being piloted, is under review.

In Wales, a new Sustainable Land Management programme will reward farmers for measures that mitigate climate change, enhance ecosystems and conserve the Welsh countryside. These include tree planting, habitat protection and sustainable food production. 

Wales will also become the first UK country to ban snares and glue traps, widely criticised for catching animals indiscriminately and causing unnecessary suffering. 

These are difficult and challenging times for our farmers. Climate change, rising costs, new trade deals and the war in Ukraine, are just some of the issues they face,” said Welsh Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths.

“This Bill provides a framework on which all future agricultural support will be delivered and outlines how we can keep farmers on the land, produce food sustainably and deal with the climate emergency.”

Feel the burn: how ice swimming may be good for your body

A deep dive into studies on the benefits of cold water swimming found it may help burn body fat and ward off diabetes.

Fans of winter swimming have long-championed the mental health boost provided by an icy plunge. 

Now researchers from The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) have found encouraging links with brown adipose tissue, a type of ‘good’ body fat which burns calories and is activated by the cold.

Their review of 104 studies also found that exposure to cold water or air also stimulates adipose tissue to produce the protein adiponectin, which protects against insulin resistance, diabetes and other diseases.

They cautioned however that more work was needed to confirm their findings, warning that winter swimmers may be naturally healthier thanks to their active lifestyle and positive mindset. 

“From this review, it is clear that there is increasing scientific support that voluntary exposure to cold water may have some beneficial health effects,” said lead author James Mercer, from UiT.

A decades-long fight ended in victory for this Māori tribe

A Māori tribe has secured millions of dollars in compensation after a 40-year battle for redress.

The 46,000-strong Ngāti Maniapoto of New Zealand’s North Island won NZ$177m (£93m) for enduring “indiscriminate” killings and land grabs. 

The landmark settlement, which passed a third reading in NImage: Māori warriors celebrating Waitangi Day, the anniversary of the treaty of Waitangi between the British government and the Māori. 

ew Zealand’s parliament building in Wellington, also came with an apology from the crown and the return of 36 sites of cultural significance. 

Hundreds of tribal members who were gathered in the public gallery broke into waiata (song) and performed haka (ceremonial dance) as the Maniapoto Claims Settlement Bill was passed into law.

A little under 200 years ago the Ngāti Maniapoto were a burgeoning iwi (tribe), but they suffered in the following decade as the crown confiscated land and killed women and children in the Waikato wars.

Speaking to Waatea News, iwi elder Dr Tom Roa said: “This is a chapter turning in the history book of the Ngāti Maniapoto with the crown.”

Iconic wildlife species are on the rebound in Europe

Wolves, brown bears and bison are some of the species that have made an unexpected comeback in Europe over the last half century, according to a major report from Rewilding Europe.

The Wildlife Comeback Report discovered certain species had boosted both population size and geographical range over the previous 40 to 50 years, thanks to better legal protection, habitat restoration, wildlife corridors and reintroductions. 

The Eurasian beaver, grey seal, and European bison showed the strongest return among mammals. Wolves are readily recolonising where humans allow, and bear populations have risen by 44 per cent since 1960.

The barnacle goose, griffon vulture, great white egret and Dalmatian pelican are also doing well. The west coast of Scotland and the Isle of Wight are home to growing populations of white-tailed eagles, with 12,500 pairs spread over much of Europe. 

The report was commissioned by Rewilding Europe and compiled by the Zoological Society of London, BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council. 

Rewilding Europe’s executive director, Frans Schepers, said: “By learning from the success stories we can maximise wildlife comeback across the board. The report also shows that we must work hard on many fronts to keep the recovery continuing to happen and to allow more species to benefit.”

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