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August 2022 Newsletter

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

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12 August 2022 TPZN
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I hope you haven't had to experience drought or floods over the summer.

The world's weather is a little crazy at the moment. As the summer draws to a close The Project Zen says thank you to Uchechi for joining the team for a wee while and we hope she enjoyed herself. Her research has shown that a project like 'Happy Nature Happy Us' would be welcomed by International Students new to the University of Aberdeen.

I will be approaching the Student Union and lecturers to find out if this is something they would support. Below are the results of one of the questions in her survey.

The 'Happy Nature Happy Us' project is set to continue into September, with excellent and regular attendance at Rosemount Community Centre and the Tilly Community Flat. The drawing, painting and pot decoration has been a success in encouraging relaxation, friendly conversation and fun.

We hope you relax now and enjoy the newsletter articles.

Sarina, Executive Editor

Rewilding: Fixing our mistakes

Recently rewilding has been a hot topic in the news due to talks to reintroduce Bison to south England. However rewilding of species and of plants has been going on busily in Scotland for many years.

The forests of Scotland and the animals that live in them have been in decline for centuries. This is caused by persecution, deforesting, or just humans settling and farming the land. Today, after a few decades of work, things are beginning to look up for Scotland’s natural habitats.

Scots Pine trees have started to fill in the bare spaces in the landscape, pine martens and the native red squirrels are growing in population and going back to the places where they used to be. Wildflowers and native plants are growing stronger.

This is all due to many different rewilding projects happening throughout Scotland. In the rest of Great Britain, lots of species are absent but are taking refuge in Scotland’s natural spaces. Capercaillie and wildcats live in small populations throughout the highlands.

In 1917, because of persecution, White-tailed eagles became extinct in Scotland. There have been six periods of reintroduction that have happened since 1975 and they have declared the programme a successful conservation effort.

Now the “South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project” is wanting to reinforce the population of golden eagles in the south of Scotland where humans and changes in land use have left their numbers reduced.

A five-year study to discover how beavers can help the environment, called the Scottish Beaver Trial, started in 2009 and released wild beavers into Argyll in the Knapdale forest. It was announced in 2016 that beavers would be allowed to remain in Scotland subject to a series of assessments. Under European law beavers are a protected species and it is expected that they would gain a similar status in Scotland soon.

The people in charge of the estates where the beavers were released have noted that frogs and toads, whose populations are in decline across much of the UK, have arrived in their masses since the return of the beavers. There is also the idea of returning apex predators, like lynx and wolves that is part of the rewilding discussion. This however has generated both excitement and fierce debate from both sides of the issue.

Sweet Potatoes: Nutrient Silos of Goodness

All around the world we enjoy the Sweet Potato as a popular snack or meal. People in Uganda and South Sudan frequently eat it as a breakfast or as a snack, typically with a peanut sauce.

In Egypt it’s known as Batata and is a common street food in winter. In East Asia it’s also a winter food, and they bake it in a large iron drum in China and Korea.

Sweet potatoes are something called a root tuber. These are the swollen parts of a plant's root system where it stores extra nutrients to survive the winter. It’s not at all surprising, then, when we discover just how packed with goodness and beneficial things they are.

There are many different species of sweet potato, but one thing many of these have in common is the fact they are nutritious and very good for us. They are also rich in antioxidants which protect our bodies from things called Free Radicals. These are unstable molecules that can damage our DNA and trigger inflammation. We have linked these to chronic illnesses, like cancer and heart disease.

Also high in fibre, which is very helpful for your gut health. These root vegetables have both soluble and insoluble fibre.

They have linked diets that have at least 20 to 33 grams of fibre a day to lower risks of colon cancer and more regular bowel movements. Sweet potatoes come in different colour varieties as well. Some have purple flesh, some white flesh, but most commonly, over here are the orange flesh ones. These particular potatoes are one of the higher natural sources of beta-carotene, which is a compound our bodies convert to vitamin A.

Our bodies use this to keep our eyes and our immune systems healthy. It’s good for our heart and kidneys. It’s also needed for keeping healthy mucous membranes, especially in our guts. If you include a little fat when preparing them, like coconut oil or avocado, this can help boost our body's absorption of beta-carotene.

Some findings also suggest that the eating of sweet potato and sweet potato leaves can improve blood sugar regulation in type-2 diabetes. On top of all this, they are very easy to add to our diets. We can eat them with or without the skins. Can be baked, steamed, boiled, pan-cooked, roasted or fried. And they go well with many different dishes and seasonings, both savoury and sweet.

Ending Thoughts

Thank you to Alex for putting the newsletter together. We had an unexpected delay with the website, so fingers crossed the next newsletter will have news of the website going live. As always we would love to hear any comments or suggestions you have. Until the next one be happy and have some fun.

The Project Zen Team

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