From Greece to Bangladesh, individual acts, big impact for land and water

1. Ecuador

An Indigenous Shuar community won protection of the Tiwi Nunka Forest in southern Ecuador. Protected areas are often created without the involvement or consent of the inhabitants. Tiwi Nunka is the country’s first Indigenous-led conservation area, with the region’s 35 families of the El Kiim community, totaling 200 people, at the helm. The ancestral forest of 13,583 acres is part of the National System of Protected Areas, which safeguards the ecosystem from mining, ranching, and agricultural expansion.

The region is a refuge to the puma and Andean bear and connects protected areas on either side, allowing species to cross a safe micro-corridor. The 22-year-long effort was supported by the nonprofit Nature and Culture International, which lent legal and governmental expertise, as well as respect for community approaches that had been missing from previous attempts to regain Shuar lands. “Our elders left us as an inheritance to take care of nature and all species,” said Milton Asamat, president of the Shuar Kiim Center. “We want to conserve the water, the plants and everything that has life.”
Sources: Mongabay, Nature and Culture International

Why We Wrote This

Better care for the environment doesn’t always require the newest technology or massive funding. In our progress roundup, citizens in Bangladesh, Ecuador, and Greece are making strides with individual and collective efforts.

2. United States

Scientists have revived an old-fashioned form of art to create graphics readable by those with visual impairments. Artists in 19th-century Europe and likely a millennium earlier in China made lithophane art by molding translucent porcelain or wax. When light shines from behind, the image glows like a digital image. Researchers from Baylor University in Texas figured out how to use 3D-printed lithophanes to present scientific data that can be interpreted both tactilely and visually.

Students with low vision have long been discouraged from pursuing chemistry or working in labs. “This research is an example of art making science more accessible and inclusive. Art is rescuing science from itself,” said study co-author Bryan Shaw. In the experiment, blind participants correctly interpreted the information provided in lithophanes with an accuracy rate of 96.7%, compared with 92.2% for sighted interpretation. Other methods such as specialized paper that swells to form tactile graphics are a quicker option for accessibility but are not as accurate as lithophanes.
Source: Science

3. United Kingdom

PA Media/Reuters

Penny the Polar Bear and her mothers have become the first family with same-sex parents to appear on the children’s show “Peppa Pig.”

British children’s shows are prizing inclusivity by adding new characters. In September, the world of “Thomas & Friends” welcomed Bruno, a red brake car with autism, to the scene. The voice is played by 9-year-old Elliott Garcia, who has autism, but the creators acknowledge that no one character will be representative. “While Bruno thoughtfully reflects the traits and preferences of some autistic people, one animated character could never encompass the real-life experience of every autistic person,” the company said. The goal is to allow children with autism to see themselves represented on screen, while building understanding and empathy among other kids.

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