Points of Progress: Endangered fish are rebounding, and more

Why We Wrote This

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A roundup of positive stories to inspire you.

Robert F. Bukaty/AP
A researcher tags an endangered shortnose sturgeon for release in the Saco River in Biddeford, Maine, on April 25, 2019.

United States

One of the world’s most threatened species of fish is rebounding. Sturgeon populations were in decline from more than a century of water pollution and dam construction. Efforts to limit fishing and install fish elevators around dams are showing promise, and cleaner water and dam removals are also helping. Maine’s sturgeon population has doubled to 10,000 since the 1990s. Researchers had thought sturgeon were gone from the Chesapeake Bay, but their numbers are now back in the thousands. Conservationists say that protections are still necessary as sturgeon populations are a fraction of what they once were. (The Associated Press)

Canada

The Kwanlin Dün First Nation is piloting a public safety task force and seeing improvements. Launched in 2016, the four-
person team in Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon, serves as a middle step of enforcement between the indigenous community and the police. Patrolling the city without weapons, the team aims to build trust and deter crime by maintaining a presence. And their work is being noticed: Indigenous groups within Canada and from New Zealand have traveled to see the task force in action. Statistics aren’t available yet, but drug trafficking, breaking and entering, and public intoxication have noticeably decreased. Locals told a reporter that children are playing outside again. (The Globe and Mail)

Zimbabwe

A program is helping small-scale farmers boost yields and income through drought-resistant practices. Drip-irrigation systems are improving water efficiency. One farmer told a reporter he uses 90% less water than traditional flood irrigation and it’s less labor-intensive. By introducing crop diversity, farmers are increasing food production; they now have multiple yields and are less reliant on one crop. But many farmers are not able to secure enough money for startup costs from the program. (Reuters)

Europe

For the first time, the European Commission has chosen a woman as president. Ursula von der Leyen will lead 32,000 staff members and will be in charge of billions of euros. She will represent the European Union at international summits, negotiate trade deals, and also oversee Brexit on behalf of the commission. Ms. von der Leyen, Germany’s outgoing defense minister and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, promises a minimum wage and a plan for a carbon-neutral Europe. (The New York Times)

Michael Sohn/AP
Ursula von der Leyen receives congratulatory flowers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel after becoming the next president of the European Commission on July 17, 2019.

Thailand

As concern grows around the world about the treatment of elephants, a new tourist attraction has opened in Chiang Mai called ChangChill or “relaxed elephants.” It’s billed as the world’s first humane elephant camp. The ChangChill model shifts from activities in which humans have direct contact with elephants and cause stress for the animals. Visitors observe the elephants grazing and socializing, and they can still bathe elephants from observation decks and feed them indirectly. The change was inspired by a growing public demand for humane animal attractions; 226 travel companies vowed to no longer sell or promote cruel elephant entertainment. (Travel Pulse)

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