World Environment Day 2020: From better air, water quality to wild animal sightings in cities, here's how COVID-19 lockdown affected environment

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The COVID-19 pandemic that started in China's Wuhan late last year has left behind a trail of deaths. Strangely enough, the pandemic seems to have given the environment some breathing space. Nature is cleansing herself and slowly reclaiming the lost space. With World Environment Day falling on 5 June, here's looking at how the pandemic has affected the flora and fauna.

Air

Back in April, the Central Pollution Board (CPCB) had stated that the lockdown which was imposed since 25 March to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic resulted in significant improvement in air quality across the country. According to the report, stringent restrictions on travel, and non-essential activities led to the improvement.

A study conducted by the American Geophysical Union also found that levels of two major air pollutants have been drastically reduced since lockdowns began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to study authors, nitrogen dioxide pollution and particulate matter pollution saw a marked decrease across northern China, Western Europe and the US.

Wildlife

The lockdown has seen a positive effect on wildlife as well. With the lockdown rendering the world less crowded, animals that are usually seen only on television screens, and in the jungles, seemed to be making themselves quite at home in urban areas.

Earlier, in April, actress Juhi Chawla had tweeted pictures of peacocks spotted at Khareghat Colony in Mumbai.

Similarly videos of a civet cat, puma as well as a Nilgai sauntering in urban areas have been widely circulated on social media.

According to a report in The Guardian, the National Trust has reported that raptors, badgers, otters and even orcas have been thriving in the UK in the lockdown.

Water

The coronavirus lockdown also saw the water quality of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna improve significantly with reduced industrial activities. There was reduction in nitrate concentration observed in the Ganga. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) in a report to the Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC) credited absence of industrial effluents and reduction in human activity as reasons for the improvement in the quality of the river water.

A report in Free Press Journal also mentioned that pollution from waste spilling into the seas of Rome has also decreased by 30 percent during Italy's coronavirus lockdown.

The United Nations General Assembly established the World Environment Day on the first day of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. World Environment Day was first celebrated in 1974.

The World Environment Day 2020's theme is 'Celebrate Biodiversity'. According to the UN, recent events from bushfires in Brazil to locust infestations across the world, and a global disease pandemic all demonstrate the interdependence of humans and nature.

Also See: World Environment Day 2020: From Save Western Ghats March to Narmada Bachao Andolan, these movements are aimed at creating awareness for nature conservation

World Environment Day 2020: Tigers are threatened by a nearly 24,000 kilometers network of planned roads across Asia

World Environment Day 2020: To prevent future pandemics, it is important to bridge the human—animal health divide

Read more on Environment by Firstpost.