picture showing the city medellin viewed from a hill. you can see many high buildings and a mountain in the background with lots of trees

Environmental news of the month: July

Discover July's top environmental stories: wild horses restore German mining sites, Medellín cools down with green spaces, the EU commits to nature restoration, and Sweden bans destructive bottom trawling. Read more for the latest in biodiversity and conservation efforts.

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This month’s environmental news highlights key developments in biodiversity, urban cooling, and marine conservation. Wild horses have been introduced to the Sophienhöhe nature reserve in Germany to help restore a former mining site by maintaining the grassland and boosting biodiversity. Medellín’s green initiative has successfully cooled the city by 2°C through extensive planting, improving air quality and creating more green spaces. The EU has passed the Nature Restoration Law, committing to restore 20% of its land and sea area by 2030, thanks to Austria’s pivotal support. Sweden has banned bottom trawling in all its national waters, following Greece’s lead in marine conservation.

Transforming a Mining Wasteland with Nature's Lawn Mowers

drone image of an old miningsite called sophienhöhe in german. the image shows a small road passing by a lake surrounded by trees in autumn colord leaves

The first wild horses were released in a German nature reserve to help maintain the natural habitat and increase biodiversity. The Sophienhöhe in Germany, a former open-cast mining site near the Hambach Forest, has been undergoing efforts to restore its natural habitat over the past years. These efforts have proven effective, with the landscape gradually developing back into a grassland area similar to its pre-mining state.

Large grazers were once common in these landscapes, keeping the vegetation short and open, thus creating a unique habitat crucial for many species. The introduction of a small herd of Konik horses aims to recreate the natural dynamics of the grassland area. Their movement and grazing behaviour not only keep the vegetation short but also enhance overall biodiversity. For example, their excrement fosters insects and beetles that would not thrive otherwise. Additionally, their hoof movements mix the soil, and their fur transports seeds, accelerating biodiversity in the area.

Konik horses are known for their sturdiness and comfort in harsh weather conditions, making them ideal lawnmowers and biodiversity keepers for the former mining site.

Cooling down a city

picture showing the city medellin viewed from a hill. you can see many high buildings and a mountain in the background with lots of trees

Humans around the globe are struggling with rising temperatures and heat waves. For those living in cities, the new normal in terms of heat can become not only uncomfortable but life-threatening. But how can a city cool down? Medellín has tackled this problem head-on by planting over 2.5 million smaller plants and 880,000 trees, cooling the city by an astonishing 2 degrees Celsius. To maximise green space in the already tight city, trees and plants were placed not only along roads but also on roofs and green walls. This initiative had positive side effects too, as Medline’s air quality significantly improved.

For more information on the problem of increasing heat for humans, especially in urban areas, check out this report.

And find out more about Medellín’s green city strategy on their official website.

EU Nature Restoration Law

view on a lake in the mountains. the lake is sourrounded by trees an din the background you see another mountain.

The EU Nature Restoration Law has finally passed, setting ambitious targets for restoring nature in Europe and providing a robust framework to ensure these actions are legally enforced. With the passing of this law, the EU has committed to restoring 20 percent of its land and sea area by 2030. The turning point came when Austria switched its stance from neutral to pro-restoration, allowing the law to pass the vote. If you want to learn more about the specific targets of this law, check out our detailed blog article on the subject.

Sweden bans bottom trawling

imga eof a bottom trawling boat on the surface

Bottom trawling is a fishing technique in which a huge net is dragged over the ocean floor, collecting everything in its path. This method causes major damage to ecosystems due to overfishing and harm to the ocean floor. Despite the devastating state of European marine ecosystems, it is allowed in most countries. However, the tide seems to be changing. Earlier this year, Greece was the first European country to ban bottom trawling in its marine protected areas. Now, Sweden has taken it a step further by banning bottom trawling in all of its national waters, setting a positive example for marine ecosystem recovery.

Find more information here.

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