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UCA creates interactive world map of nature flourishing from our confinement


Two rorqual whales of the coast of MarseilleRare whales play off the coast of Marseille, seagulls nest on the beaches of Nice, Corsica is visible from Valbonne, dolphins frolic in the port of Antibes: images that only the Corona crisis have made possible. While the pandemic is imposing a pause on humanity, nature and the environment are reviving. The University of Côte d'Azur plans to record the positive effects of Covid-19 on a digital map of the world. It starts on Saturday - and everyone can join in!

"Open map of the global pause" is the name of the international project behind which Samira Karrach from the Université Côte d'Azur (UCA) is behind.

"We are currently experiencing a historic situation", said the head of the UCA's Excellence Initiative in an interview. "I thought we should record what happens when people are forced to pause."

For several weeks now, new images and videos have been appearing in the media, again and again, showing what has happened since planes and ships have come to a standstill, industrial plants have been shut down, people are staying at home: In Venice, the water has become clear, dolphins can be seen in Mediterranean ports, the sky is reappearing over Beijing, the Himalayas can now be seen from hundreds of kilometres away, wild animals are venturing into cities and settling in parks...

It's phenomena like this that are happening all over the world right now. This pandemic has achieved more than any international climate treaty. "And we should remember this later", says Samira Karrach.

Since the beaches in Nice have been closed, seagulls nest in the middle of the pebbles.  Symbolic photo: ShutterstockLaunches on 9 May

Next Saturday, May 9th, at 6 pm, their project will go live, in which people from all corners of the world are invited to participate: Everyone can upload their photos, videos, texts or links with positive traces left by the coronavirus by indicating the exact place where they were taken. We are looking for testimonials from nature and the environment as well as acts of solidarity such as the popular balcony concerts for carers.

The result should be a digital world map with as many elements as possible, a kind of picture book for the time after - or "a legacy for future generations", as the initiator of the "Open map of the global pause" puts it.

Does Samira Karrach believe that the Covid-19 pandemic will leave a lasting positive impact? "People are rethinking their behaviour. I hear from some people who want to change careers and move to the countryside, for example, especially since teleworking is conceivable for many at once. I hope that the economic and social hardships we are experiencing will lead to a rethink worldwide. The longer the current situation lasts, the more everyone will think about what they can change.

-Aila Stöckmann