ISA Karst Research on Ecological Recovery Impacts on the Highest Level
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Recently, Nature published a review in their “News and Views” category with a title “Satellite images show China going green” (Nature, 2018, 553: 411-413) evaluating the research “Increased vegetation growth and carbon stock in China karst via ecological engineering” ( Nature Sustainability, 2018,1:44-50) done by Prof. WANG Kelin and his group from Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences(ISA).

In this review, Professor Marc Macias-Fauria from University of Oxford acknowledged that ISA’s karst study has a high value regarding the research background, data use, research methods and study contents.

Specifically, Professor Marc Macias-Fauria wrote that ISA’s work clearly had shown that the Grain to Green Program (GGP) had a positive large-scale effect on vegetation growth in southwestern China, indicating that the GGP does not only improve the vegetation cover, but also turns South China Karst into a carbon sink with a considerable share of the entire country’s net carbon sequestration.

Prof. Macias-Fauria stated that the research results showed that conservation projects increased vegetation cover in southwestern China were convincingly supported by the consistent findings of three independent lines of evidence.

Professor Marc Macias-Fauria explained that the use of a dynamic ecosystem model (taking the effect of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide into account) highlighted the divergence between the simulated negative vegetation trends without tree-planting intervention and the observed increase in vegetation cover.

By using the GGP inventory data, research results convincingly showed a relationship between conservation actions at the county level and vegetation growth.

The review summed up that ISA’s karst study results were encouraging regarding the large-scale effects of the GGP on vegetation cover, but also the limitations of satellite image based analyses were pointed out: no conclusions can be drawn on the reduction of erosion (which is one of the main aims of the GGP) nor can the biodiversity be studied. These drawbacks make field studies inevitable, as also concluded in scientists’ study.