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The world is greener than it was 20 years ago

Date: 11-Mar-19
Author: Liam Taylor

The NASA study revealed some surprising results about global tree cover over the last two decades. Image: Pexels © Pexels

The NASA study revealed some surprising results about global tree cover over the last two decades. Image: Pexels

A NASA study using satellite images has revealed some highly positive news: over the last two decades the Earth has actually seen an increase in green coverage. The study also shows that it is China and India, two countries often labelled as environmental vagrants, that are leading the way in greening on land.

Cumulatively, the increase in green tree and plant cover adds up to about a 5% increase compared to the early 2000s, equivalent to “the area covered by all the Amazon rainforests.” Rama Nemani, an author on the study, said that much of this new greenery had been a direct result of human activity.

“When the greening of the Earth was first observed, we thought it was due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to more leaf growth in northern forests, for instance,” Nemani said.

“Now, with the [satellite] data that lets us understand the phenomenon at really small scales, we see that humans are also contributing.” 

China and India alone contributed approximately one-third of the greening, the majority of which came from programs to conserve and expand forest. In 2017, India broke its own world record with over 1.5 million volunteers planting 66 million trees in just 12 hours. The nation has also committed a $6 billion-dollar fund aimed at reforesting 12% of its land by 2030. 

Researchers were quick to point out that the gain in greenness is not equivalent to the loss of natural vegetation and prime rainforests in areas such as Brazil and Indonesia, which remains highly problematic. What it does provide is an insight into how much can be achieved when governments instigate ambitious planting programs such as those in China and India.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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