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Books by bike: Sri Lankan man runs mobile library for kids
1 December 2020 - During his leisure time, Mahinda Dasanayaka packs his motorbike with books and rides his mobile library -- across mostly muddy roads running through tea-growing mountain areas -- to underprivileged children in backward rural parts of Sri Lanka. Having witnessed the hardships faced by children whose villages have no library facilities, Dasanayaka was looking for ways to help them. ... He also has established mini libraries at intersections in some of the villages he visits, giving children and adults a place to share books. (more)

Pop-up school for US asylum seekers thrives despite pandemic
1 December 2020 - It started out simply: A pop-up school on a sidewalk to teach reading, writing, math, and art to Central American children living in a camp of asylum seekers stuck at America's doorstep. Like countless schools, the Sidewalk School went to virtual learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, but instead of being hampered by the change, it has blossomed. The classes have offered children not only the chance to catch up on studies that were interrupted when their families fled violence in their homelands, but also a distraction from the long days of boredom. (more)

These remote islands will be one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world
30 November 2020 - A series of remote islands in the South Atlantic Ocean will soon become one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. Home to only 244 people, Tristan da Cunha is a volcanic island that provides refuge to exotic and rare wildlife. It comprises a few landmasses, one of which is completely inaccessible. The total area of the islands is approximately 265,000 square miles, with very little room for humans. (more)

US: New migration maps serve as tools to help big game in West
30 November 2020 - The life-or-death journey made by mule deer during the second-longest big game migration in North America came down to their ability to squeeze through a fence -- a discovery made by scientists using wildlife GPS tracking techniques to map animal migrations in the West in unprecedented detail. The resulting atlas of migration corridors in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming published by the U.S. Geological Survey can help elk, mule deer, antelope, and other animals by focusing efforts to reduce man-made obstacles along their journeys, biologists and wildlife advocates say. (more)

New Zealand couple gift pristine land worth millions to the nation
29 November 2020 - A New Zealand couple is gifting 900 hectares of pristine land worth millions to the crown in hopes of seeing the property preserved for all to 'enjoy and appreciate' for years to come. Situated at the base of the Remarkables range near Lake Wakatipu, the land has been owned by Dick and Jillian Jardine's family for 98 years. Now, however, the couple has decided that come 2022, the family's 100th year of ownership, they will hand over the property to the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust. (more)

UK: Surprise discovery of rare plant at Norfolk 'ghost pond'
29 November 2020 - A rare plant has reappeared after more than a century in hiding. The pinkish-flowered plant, known as grass-poly, was found growing on the banks of an old farmland pond in Norfolk. The mystery species 'came back from the dead' after seeds submerged in the mud were disturbed during work to restore the pond. And scientists say conservation efforts could lead to the return of other long-forgotten botanical gems. (more)

Colombia: Hummingbird sanctuary provides respite from stresses of Bogota city life
28 November 2020 - A hummingbird sanctuary on the outskirts of Colombia's capital Bogota is providing a picturesque respite from the noise and stresses of big city living. The Paramuno corridor was inaugurated in recent weeks on Monserrate hill in a forest reserve east of the city, letting bird watchers delight in watching the tiny creatures flutter their wings through binoculars and capturing them with camera lenses. (more)

New Zealand couple says no to lucrative offers from developers and gives land to nation
28 November 2020 - A married couple from New Zealand has donated their heritage farming property to the state to ensure the beautiful natural scenery it contains can be enjoyed by the people for all time. Shirking development offers for the protection of the area as working pastureland, Dick and Jillian gave the local government of the Wakatipu, on New Zealand's South Island, something that is becoming increasingly scarce: a wide-open landscape. (more)

New Zealand couple shuns developers to give 900 hectares of land to nation
28 November 2020 - A New Zealand farming family has gifted 900 hectares of pristine land by the edge of Lake Wakatipu to the crown, saying it is 'the right thing to do'. The stretch of land at the foot of the Remarkables range will become open to everyone in 2022, after being handed over to the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust for 'the benefit and enjoyment of all New Zealanders'. Remarkables station owners, Dick and Jillian Jardine, whose family have owned and worked the land for 98 years, want to see it protected and loved for another century. (more)

Ancient Mayan city built a sophisticated water filtration system with materials we still use today
27 November 2020 - Archaeologists working at the site of the ancient Maya city of Tikal in northern Guatemala have found a sophisticated water filtration system that would have proven to be millennia ahead of its time. Built at the end of a channel from the Corriental reservoir, a critical source of drinking water for the northern Maya, the mixture of zeolite and quartz sand at the mouth of the channel would have removed most contaminants like cyanobacteria and heavy metals and is still used in modern water filters even today. (more)

Solar energy on track to power London rail link by 2022
27 November 2020 - Solar power will be used on a major railway line into London from early 2022, the company behind the project said on Monday [23 November], as Britain aims for net-zero emissions within three decades. Riding Sunbeams, a social enterprise, said it would use a 2.5-million pound ($3.34-million) government grant to build a community-owned solar farm to help power trains on the line that links the capital with the southern seaside town of Eastbourne. (more)

Archeologists discover an advanced water filtration system in an ancient Mayan city
27 November 2020 - A new paper published in Scientific Reports has discovered an extremely sophisticated filtration system at the Corriental reservoir, which supplied the Mayan city of Tikal. Deposits of quartz and zeolite -- neither local to the reservoir -- indicate the Mayans used these minerals to purify their drinking water supply. These two minerals are an important component of modern filtration, suggesting the Mayans were many centuries ahead of their time. (more)

His invention for renewable energy inspired by the physics of northern lights just won the 2020 Dyson Prize
27 November 2020 - While renewable energy uptake and solutions continue to grow, many can only generate electricity in the right environmental conditions. For example, solar panels can only capture and convert visible light into renewable energy and must be facing the sun to do so. What is more, solar farms are only built horizontally, never vertically and are often placed on prime arable farmland. The solution? Invented by 27-year-old Carvey Ehren Maigue from Mapua University in the Philippines, AuREUS System Technology is a material that can be attached to a pre-existing structure or surface. Utilizing the natural scientific principles behind the northern and southern lights, it harvests UV light and convert this into visible light to generate electricity. (more)

Northern Ireland Water to plant one million native species trees on its estate
26 November 2020 - Northern Ireland Water has announced plans to plant one million trees on its estate and hopes to complete the work within a decade. All the trees will be native species and most will be deciduous broadleaves. Northern Ireland is one of the least wooded areas in Europe, with about 8 percent tree cover. The work will be done under the guidance of the Woodland Trust. (more)

US: This student just became the first Latino DACA recipient to win the Rhodes Scholarship. He says it's all because of his elementary school teacher
26 November 2020 - In second grade, Santiago Potes walked into Marina Esteva's gifted and talented classroom at Sweetwater Elementary School in Miami, Florida, for the first time. He was an undocumented immigrant from Colombia who entered the country when he was 4 years old. Esteva said she quickly noticed his intelligence and wanted to nurture him toward success. Now, Potes is the first Latino DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipient to be awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. (more)

US: Utah officials thrilled to see animals using highway wildlife overpass
26 November 2020 - In an effort to reduce accidents involving wildlife on a busy highway, Utah officials got creative: they built a bridge. New video shows the plan has been a success. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources built the bridge back in 2018 over Interstate 80 to reduce traffic accidents in Parleys Canyon caused by wandering animals. Last week, the agency released a video of the bridge in use -- aiding moose, porcupines, deer, and even bears across the busy highway. (more)

Son, father farm to feed neighbors during lockdown in India
25 November 2020 - A 22-year-old aircraft maintenance engineer living in Dubai, Zachariah was visiting the southwest India state of Kerala for a family wedding when a lockdown was declared. Store shelves were emptying and plant nurseries were closed, so Zachariah and his father collected seeds from whatever fruits and vegetables they could find at the grocery store and planted them on their family's plot of land. Guided by a combination of YouTube videos and techniques Zachariah's grandfather passed down to his father, they began a garden that eventually helped feed 20 neighboring households during the pandemic. (more)

US: Iowa Tribe creates national park on Nebraska-Kansas border
25 November 2020 - The Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska is creating the nation's largest tribal national park on a forested bluff overlooking the Missouri River and a historic site of its people. The 444-acre park will allow the tribe to tell the story of the Ioway people and provide a rustic getaway where people can hike, camp, and bird-watch, said Lance Foster, the vice chairman of the tribe. (more)

US: Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid
25 November 2020 - Andy Larsen is a sports writer, but with so many games scratched during the pandemic he has spent a lot of time digging into coronavirus data and its sobering implications. Then on Monday [23 November], while he was sorting his spare change -- some from a childhood piggy bank -- it struck him: Other people in Utah could use the money more than he could. Larsen's spontaneous tweet looking for someone in need to whom he could give the $185 he had in the [the bank and a plastic cup] quickly snowballed into tens of thousands of dollars in donations from strangers, as well as messages from people who could use the help. (more)

Jupiter and Saturn are about to appear closer in the sky than they have for 800 years, aligning as a 'double planet'
24 November 2020 - Jupiter and Saturn will align in the night sky on December 21. It'll be the closest they've appeared in 800 years. The two planets move into alignment, or conjunction, every 20 years. But this year, they will be so close that they'll look like a 'double planet.' The last time they looked this close from Earth's vantage point was nearly 800 years ago, on March 4, 1226. (more)

India: Bengaluru organic gardening expert shows how to grow a 'perfumed garden' at home
23 November 2020 - Organic gardening expert, Sriram Aravamudan shares tips on picking the right plants and hacks that can ward off insects. ... Before taste, sound, and sight, it is the smell that first passes through the amygdala and the hippocampus. These two parts of the brain are responsible for memories and emotion. Building a 'perfumed' garden can be overwhelming, especially for beginners so to uncomplicate things, Sriram shares his expertise. (more)

India: His organic garden gives sustainable goals to others
23 November 2020 - With a mission to increase the green cover in the city and plant over 50,000 saplings in a year, Vishkarampal Singh Dhiman (29), a [Jalandhar] city resident is giving sustainable goals to others through his lush green garden at his home. Home to various medicinal plants, including giloy, tulsi, insulin, moringa tea (a herbal tea with anti-cancer properties, beneficial to digestion and skin) and others, Dhiman's garden indicates that he is an ardent nature lover. He has also planted different varieties of fruits, vegetables, and decorative plants in his lawn. He says he got inclined towards environment when he returned from London, after completing his higher studies. (more)

US: Weed-eating goats are employed to tackle noxious weeds in Pikes Peak region park
23 November 2020 - For 22 years Lani Malmberg's herd of Spanish cashmere goats has been coming to Bear Creek Regional Park on the southwest side of Colorado Springs to do their own important job. Professional grazier and owner of several goat herds, Lani Malmberg is a passionate voice and educator against the use of chemicals to control weeds. While tending her herd, she is a prodigious ambassador for taking care of the land without herbicides and machinery. (more)

Global map of bees created in conservation first
22 November 2020 - Scientists have mapped the distribution of all 20,000 bee species on earth. The new global map of bees will help in the conservation of the insects we rely on to pollinate our crops, say researchers in Singapore and China. ... Some bee populations, such as bumblebees in Europe and North America, are well studied. But in other regions, such as large parts of Asia and Africa, documentation has been sparse. (more)

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