Scientists stunned by Chinese forests’ recovery

Scientists stunned by Chinese forests’ recovery

A new study shows a dramatic turnaround for Chinese forests.

China has dramatically reversed a loss of forests ever since implementing a forest conservation program, wowing scientists.

Beijing implemented the conservation program in 1998, and there appears to be evidence that it has been a success, with logging and clear cutting plummeting and tree cover rising between 2000 and 2010, according to a Michigan State University statement.

Scientists used satellite images to study the forests in China to see how tree cover was changing. They found significant recovery in 1.6 percent of territory in China, while just 0.38 percent lost tree cover.

Forests are very important to the environment because they promote biodiversity, prevent soil erosion, and gulp up the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that we pump out.

In the last quarter century, we’ve lost 319 million acres, or an area a bit larger than South Africa. China’s successful conservation program could be a model for other countries.

“It is encouraging that China’s forest has been recovering in the midst of its daunting environmental challenges such as severe air pollution and water shortages,” co-author Jianguo Liu, Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and director of MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS), said in a statement. “In today’s telecoupled world, China is increasingly connected with other countries both socioeconomically and environmentally. Every victory must be measured holistically, or we aren’t getting a true picture.”

“Our results are very positive for China,” added author Andrés Viña of MSU-CSIS. “If you look at China in isolation, its program is working effectively and contributing to carbon sequestration in accordance to its agenda for climate change mitigation. But on the other hand, China is not in a vacuum.”

The findings were published in the journal Science Advances.

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