While we want to engage with our readers about issues affecting the environment, we worry that a never-ending stream of dire news makes it seem like meaningful change is impossible. So, we decided to highlight some good news in this brief compilation of progress in reestablishing majestic cranes in Britain, an update on efforts to clean a polluted holy river in India, and some dedicated detective work to track down long-lost apple varieties in Washington state. Videos are included about each.
Re-Introduction and Habitat Restoration of the Crane
The BBC reports that Cranes are making a comeback in Britain’s wetlands.1 Habitat destruction and hunting drove away breeding species for over 400 years until several took up residence in Norfolk in the late 1970s. There were five breeding pairs in 2000 and their numbers have grown exponentially thanks to The Great Crane Project, a partnership between the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Pensthrope Conservation and Trust and Viridor Credits.2
Today it is estimated that there are 200 giant cranes living in areas of Wales, Scotland, the Fens, Suffolk, and Gloucestershire. The graceful birds grow to be about 4 feet tall (1.2m). The BBC report shared a quote from Damon Bridge, of the UK Crane Working Group who said, “The increase of cranes over the last few years shows just how resilient nature can be when given the chance.”1
You can see an ITV News video about the remarkable comeback of the cranes below. Cranes from the Pensthrope Natural Park in Norfolk are featured.3
Progress in Rejuvenating the Ganga River
The Ganga, or Ganges, River is a sacred river for Hindus, but it has long held a reputation for being severely polluted. The Times of India reports that the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is making inroads in cleaning the river and the Home Minister, Amit Shah, hopes that the initiative can be used to clean other rivers in India. 4
The video below shows how the Namami Gange project developed two sewage treatment plants in the growing city of Bhatpara, including one that is India’s first sustainable green sewage treatment plant that uses “fixed-bed biofilm activated sludge technology.” In all, the NMCG is planning to develop 22 sewage treatment plants in West Bengal. 5
10 Apple Varieties Thought Lost Are Found
For those of us who have trouble remembering the taste differences between Granny Smith, Gala, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, and Red Delicious apples, it’s hard to imagine that the U.S. Government Printing Office’s 1905 publication of the Nomenclature of the Apple listed 17,000 known apple varieties in North America.6 Nature World News reports that ten varieties of apples written off as extinct have been found in the Pacific Northwest.7
E.J. Brandt and David Benscoter, dedicated volunteers with the nonprofit Lost Apple Project, researched a variety of records that included newspaper clippings, nursery sales, and news from county fairs to identify historical orchards and then cross-referenced it all with maps, deeds, and recollections from relatives. The forensic botanists then set out to find trees remaining where there were once thriving orchards. They collected samples and worked with botanists at the Temperate Orchard Conservancy (TOC) to identify the apples.
It is hoped that rediscovered varieties can be used to “boost genetic diversity among modern-day apple crops as climate change and disease take an increasing toll” according to TOC botanist Joanie Cooper.8
The video below follows Brandt (a Vietnam veteran and historian) and Benscoter (a retired FBI agent) as they search for long lost apple varieties on forgotten pioneer homesteads.8, 9
We look forward to sharing more good news next week!
Thanks, R.A. Kroft
1Harrabin, Roger. Cranes make comeback in Britain’s wetlands. BBC Science & Environment. 22 April 2020.
2Middleton, Kevin. It’s not all doom and gloom: the recovery of the UK crane population. RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. 17 July 2008.
3Video: Cranes make a comeback in the UK. ITV News. 14 December 2018.
4Times of India. “Clean Ganga” model for other rivers: Shah. 14 March 2020.
5Video: Namami Gange projects help rejuvenate Ganga in Bhatpara, Halisahar. ANI News. 24 January 2020
6Hatch, Peter J. The Royal Family of our “Democratic” Fruit: Thomas Jefferson’s Favorite Apples. Monticello.org. January 1995.
7 Nature World News. Ten Previously Thought Extinct Apple Varieties Found Again in Pacific Northwest. 18 April 2020.
8AP Flaccus, Gillian. Apple detectives comb US Northwest for ‘lost’ varieties. AP News. 19 November 2019.
9AP Archive. Botanists hunt extinct apples on aging pioneer homesteads. 25 November 2019.
R.A. Kroft writes about her day-to-day journey in living a smaller, more sustainable life and other topics that interest her.
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