Poachers in Africa are encroaching on wildlife land and killing rhinos in travel hot spots now devoid of visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Planting trees for gun licences: how an Indian district is tackling the water crisis
The district of Ferozepur in the Indian state of Punjab has come up with a new measure to preserve groundwater, forcing those seeking a firearms licence to plant at least ten saplings – and prove it with a selfie.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. A district in the Indian state of Punjab that has been reeling due to an extreme water crisis has found a peculiar way to deal with it. The inhabitants of the northern state’s Ferozepur district have to plant at least ten tree saplings to obtain a firearms licence. It may sound bizarre but it’s a well-thought strategy devised by the local administration: trees are the natural rechargers of underground water and also slow down stormwater runoff. This is also a major step in creating awareness about an environment that has virtually been gasping for breath.
Tree planting for gun licences in Ferozepur
The order promulgated on World Environment Day on 5 June clearly states that those seeking gun licences have to plant at least ten trees.“We’ve strictly asked the applicants to plant ten saplings and take a selfie to get the application form for the licence,” says Chander Gaind, Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepur district, praised in government and public circles for this unique initiative. “The applicant has to visit us again after one month with a selfie to prove that the saplings are being taken care of. The official proceedings for the licence start only if the activity has been managed well”.
Chander says that he has received over 100 applications since the order was passed. “We aim to plant at least 12,000 saplings in the next year. We also plan to extend the rule to the renewal of licences, which would further boost the green environment. We receive around 500 applications for renewable licences every month and around 5,000 saplings can be grown in that period, which can translate into 60,000 a year”. The district alone has around 20,000 gun users, he adds.
Tackling the water crisis in India
“Since the implementation of the rule, I’ve been receiving accolades on social media”, Chander points out, specifying that the overwhelming response has encouraged him to create awareness on the project. “I think that the same rule, if implemented across the country, could bring a sea change in the environment and could help mitigate the water crisis.”
Punjab, the state that derives its name from five rivers – Beas, Sutlej, Ravi, Jhelum and Chenab – has grappled with extreme water shortages throughout its history, like many other in India. Massive exploitation of underground water has led to water scarcity in several of the state’s regions. Guzzling water on rice paddies, for example, is one of the causes of the sorry state of affairs. In some of the districts, water has been rendered unsuitable for irrigation due to excessive use.
Government reports fear that Punjab is on the verge of becoming a dry state, and that the change may occur in just a few years if no timely action is taken to save underground water. Besides, extensive development works including widening of roads and building of flyovers has also led to dwindling green cover, which may in part be recovered thanks to the unique initiative adopted in Ferozepur.
Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has contributed two million dollars to a fund to protect Virunga National Park in Congo from threats such as terrorism, the coronavirus and poaching.
Bangladesh suffered widespread damage as a result of Cyclone Amphan. Yet the Sundarbans mangrove forest acted as a natural barrier protecting the country from further destruction, as it has done countless times before.
For the first time in seventeen years, Iceland’s two main whaling companies won’t resume whale hunting. The announcement concerns this year’s season but could carry into the future.
The relationship between the coronavirus and wildlife is complex: while the pandemic may lead to a reduction in the illegal trade in wild animals, it may also encourage it in other respects.
The largest coral reef in the world is severely threatened by climate change, but researchers are developing strategies that could contribute to saving the Great Barrier Reef.
NGO Free the Bears has opened a mountain sanctuary for moon bears in Laos. With the government’s help, it aims to close all bile farms by 2022.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a planetary wake-up call from the Earth to humanity. On Earth Day, over 500 organisations launched a global call for urgent action with the health and wellbeing of all peoples and the planet at its core.
Pollution in India has fallen drastically without the fumes of cars and factories. It’s been thirty years since the Himalayas were last visible from such a distance.