Ecological Restoration, a Good Agent for Enhancing Ecosystem Health
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The contradiction between population pressure and environmental protection has long been a research hotspot, particularly in the karst regions of southwest China. Fortunately, since the late 1990s, the rise of ecological restoration has moderated the condition effectively.

The concept of ecosystem health (ESH) is adapted to assessing recovery that goes beyond changes in vegetation cover under the action of ecological restoration.

Currently, a team of researchers from Institute of Subtropical Agriculture,The Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISA) employed the pressure-state-response (PSR) framework, evaluating the pressure and state of the fragile karst ecosystem, and testing the impact of ecological restoration on the ESH for the years 2000, 2010 and 2016.

This research compared the ESH for an area located in the karst region of southwest China between 2000 and 2016 at a spatial resolution of 250m. In spite of an increasing population density, researchers found large scale increases in ESH, which should not conceal that large parts of the karst areas were characterized by a decrease in ESH. However, there was a clear relationship between the increase in ESH and the spatial extent of restoration projects, and this effectiveness was high in the counties with large karst areas, indicating that recovery actions do impact on the derived indices.

“The usage of remote sensing based analysis for the PSR framework like the one presented here, is expected to help stakeholders and environmental organizations to evaluate environmental restoration projects and guide future actions.” said LIAO Chujie, one of the researchers. Ultimately, restoration projects, a good agent for enhancing ecosystem health, have caused a large scale transformation of farmland into forested areas.

The research was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFC0502400), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41471445, 41371418), Science and Technology Service Network Initiative (No. KFJ-STS-ZDTP-036), Chinese Academy of Sciences “Light of West China” Program, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship Initiative (No. 2018VCC0012).

The study entitled “Ecological restoration enhances ecosystem health in the karst regions of southwest China” was published in the July issue of Ecological Indicators, more details could be found at

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X18301924.