India and China are leading the charge in Earth’s “greening”

BOSTON, Massachusetts — The world’s vegetated lands are becoming greener, meaning more productive, according to study published by researchers at Boston University. India and China are the two countries where such greening is most prominently featured, researchers added.

            Land-use management could help combat some of the effects of climate change, the authors of “China and India lead in greening of the worked through land-use management” stated. Results of the study were based on satellite data obtained between 2000 and 2017. The report was published in the journal Nature Sustainability on Feb. 11.

            “China and India lead in the greening of the Earth,” authors of the published research stated.

            Land-use management in both countries was attributed for the positive results.

            “A third of the global vegetated lands are currently greening – that is, becoming more productive – in a pattern that is reflective of intensive human use of land for crops and forests across all continents, but most prominently in the two populous countries China and India,” the study concluded. “This suggests that human land-use management is an important driver of the Greening Earth, accounting for a third, and probably more, of the observed net increase in green leaf area.”

            China, alone, was responsible for 25 percent of the world’s net increase in leaf area, despite Earth’s most populous country hosting only 6.6 percent of global vegetated area.

            “The greening in China is from forests (42 percent) and croplands (32 percent),” the study found.

            Most of India’s greening – 82 percent – was attributed to croplands; only 4.4 percent of the countries greening was connected to the country’s forests.

            “The greening is prominently clustered in seven regions across six continents – most notably in China and India, which together account for nearly one-third of the observed total net increase in green leaf area globally (China 25 percent and India 6.8 percent),” the study stated.

            Food harvesting, forest expansion and overall conservation were primary factors in the world’s two most populous countries leading the greening charge.

            “China is engineering ambitious [programs] to conserve and expand forests with the goal of mitigating land degradation, air pollution and climate change,” the study continued. “Food production in China and India has increased by [more than] 35 percent since 2000 mostly owing to an increase in harvested area through multiple cropping facilitated by fertilizer use and surface- and/or groundwater irrigation.”

            The study showed human-driven land-use management could produce positive results, according to researchers.

            “Human land-use management is an important driver of the Greening Earth, accounting for a third, and probably more, of the observed net increase in green leaf area,” the study’s authors stated.

            Researchers also acknowledged efforts by members of the European Union, or EU.

            “This region, like China, ranks in the middle in terms of vegetated land area and average annual leaf area among the large countries studied here,” authors of the greening study stated. “Similar to China, [the EU] ranks at the top (third) in terms of vegetated lands that exhibit greening and towards the bottom for browning.

            “These changes produce a top rank for this region for net increase in leaf area (third) – 55 percent of which is due to croplands and 34 percent to forests (nearly all forests are managed in the EU),” the study’s authors continued.

            Human land-use management could yield positive results, but authors of study added such results would not offset loses of leaf area in other areas of natural vegetation.

            “It is important to note that the gain in greenness, which mostly occurred in the Northern temperate and high latitudes, does not offset the damage from loss of leaf area in tropical natural vegetation (for example, in Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia) and attendant consequences for ecosystem sustainability and biodiversity,” the study’s authors concluded.