Two good news stories for the environment and environmentalists emerged last week.

One was the introduction of the Ivory Bill in Parliament on 23 May which will ban all commercial dealing in ivory in the UK that ‘could directly or indirectly fuel the poaching of elephants’. It will also cover the import and re-export of ivory for commercial use. This ban will be amongst the toughest in the world and will cover ivory items of all ages, not just those produced after a certain date. Since 2006, the number of elephants in Africa has decreased by approximately 20%, mainly due to poaching which, in turn, is mainly driven by consumer demand for (and speculative acquisition of) ivory. By closing down legal ivory markets, this Bill will help to reduce the price of ivory and thus the incentive to poach. Obviously the ban will not affect the right to own, gift, inherit or bequeath ivory but it is an important step in the worldwide effort to save these iconic animals.

The other encouraging news was the publication of the Government’s Clean Air Strategy. Air pollution is now recognised as a major public health risk ranking alongside cancer, obesity and heart disease, and this strategy is the latest stage in the Government’s efforts to reduce and reverse its effects on our health and our natural environment. One particular source of pollution which has seen an increase in recent years is domestic burning of wood and coal. This will not mean you cannot continue to light a fire at home but small steps like encouraging the industry to improve the design of stoves and ensuring that only cleaner fuels can be sold – for example, only properly seasoned wood and low-smoke alternatives to traditional coal – can make a significant difference. Less smoke, less pollution, more heat. A lesson for us all. This consultation is open until 14 August and can be found here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/environmental-quality/clean-air-strategy-consultation/.