30 January 2018

The result of a visiting PhD at IGN covers the front page of Nature Sustainability


The first issue of the Nature journal "Nature sustainability" was released on January 8 and here the research paper entitled: “Increased vegetation growth and carbon stock in China karst via ecological engineering” was selected as cover story.

The paper forms part of a PhD project conducted by Xiaowei Tong from Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changsha, China.  Xiaowei Tong has recently been a visiting PhD fellow for a one year period at IGN and the paper is the result of collaboration with postdoc Martin Brandt and professor Rasmus Fensholt and other international partners.

Ecological engineering project increase vegetation and carbon uptake in the South-western China

Overexploitation of soil and vegetation resources has been ongoing during centuries in the iconic Karst landscapes of the South-western China, bordering the neighbouring countries of Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. To effectively stop this increasing state of land degradation massive afforestation and reforestation projects were implemented in the region to alleviate poverty and improve environmental conditions.

The vegetation restoration projects implemented by the government are the biggest ever conducted on Earth, including regeneration of 16.000 to 20.000 km2 of land annually over a 15 year period.

The PhD dissertation and this paper have analysed if the outcome of the restoration efforts was successful and if the mega-engineering projects have resulted in carbon sequestration at a level where it can help mitigating further climate change from reducing the atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

By using remote sensing techniques based on time series of different Earth observation data, the scientist have shown that a significant increase in the leaf area index and corresponding carbon storage have occurred. They conclude that ecological mega-engineering projects at such spatial scales can contribute to a greening Earth and reduce the risks of further land degradation, by improving the vegetation cover and the ecosystem resilience towards future climate perturbations. 

The full paper can be found at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-017-0004-x

The full paper can be found at Nature sustainability

A summary can be found at the Naure News Site