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India, China leading global environmental effort: NASA study

India and China are leading the global greening effort, which is quite contrary to the general perception around the world, a recent NASA study said Monday, noting that the world is a greener place than 20 years ago.

The NASA study based on the data received and analyzed from its satellite said that India and China are leading the greening on land. "China and India represent a third of environmentalism, but they contain only 9 percent of the planet's land surface covered with vegetation," said lead author Chi Chen of Boston University.

"This is a surprising finding, considering the general notion of land degradation in populous countries by over exploitation," he said.

The study published on February 11 in the journal Nature Sustainability said that recent satellite data (2000-2017) reveal a pattern of ecologization that is noticeably prominent in China and India and overlaps with farmland around the world.

Only China accounts for 25 percent of the global net increase in leaf area, with only 6.6 percent of the world's vegetated area.

Greening in China comes from forests (42 percent) and farmland (32 percent), but in India, it is mainly cropland (82 percent) with a smaller contribution from forests (4.4 percent) , according to the NASA study. .

China is developing ambitious programs to conserve and expand forests with the aim of mitigating land degradation, air pollution and climate change.

Food production in China and India has increased by more than 35 percent since 2000, mainly due to an increase in the area harvested through multiple crops facilitated by the use of fertilizers and surface irrigation and / or groundwater.

"When we first observed the ecologization of the Earth, we thought it was due to a warmer and more humid climate and fertilization from the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere," said Rama Nemani, research scientist at the Ames Research Center. of NASA. Author of the study.

This study was possible thanks to a two-decade data record of the Moderate Resolution Image Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. "Now, with the MODIS data, we see that humans are also contributing," he said.

By observing that once people realize that there is a problem, they tend to solve it, Nemani said in the 70s and 80s in India and China, the situation surrounding the loss of vegetation was not good.

"In the 1990s, people realized and today things have improved. Humans are incredibly resilient. That's what we see in the satellite data, "he said.

According to the document, the way in which the greening trend may change in the future depends on numerous factors.

For example, the increase in food production in India is facilitated by the irrigation of groundwater. If the groundwater runs out, this trend may change, he said.

The researchers also pointed out that the gain in greenery worldwide does not necessarily compensate for the loss of natural vegetation in tropical regions such as Brazil and Indonesia. According to the research study, there are consequences for sustainability and biodiversity in those ecosystems beyond the simple verdure of the landscape.

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