Pune: A NASA study revealed that China and India are leading over increase in green cover from last 20 years. Though this is good news for both the countries, environmentalists and researchers are skeptical about any reduction in carbon footprint. They feel an increase in green cover in only two countries will not lead to reduction in carbon footprint across the globe and will not have any positive impact on climate change.
The study was recently published by Earth Observatory, an online publishing outlet for NASA. The data reads: China and India account for one-third of the greening, but contain only nine per cent of the planet’s land area covered in vegetation.
The effect comes mostly from ambitious tree-planting programmes in China and intensive agriculture in both countries. This study was made possible by recording two-decade-long data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, as the sensors of MODIS have captured up to four shots of nearly every place on Earth, every day, for the past 20 years.
“Reducing carbon footprint is the challenge, no matter how much the green cover increases,” said Sanjeev Nalawade, city-based environmental expert.
“The green cover of the country has increased and it is a good thing but that does not mean greenery under forest has also increased. The forest cover on record is 20 per cent in the country but in reality it has reduced by 10 per cent. Therefore, there will be no effect on reduction of carbon footprint or any positive impact on climate change, because the green cover should increase on a broader aspect,” he added.
Col Shashikant Dalvi (Retd), National Co-ordinator (Water Conservation) and Pune Branch District Manager for Climate Reality Project India, said, “It is good news that the green cover in India and China has increased in a span of 20 years, but the carbon footprint will only reduce if our dependency on fossil fuel for power generation and transport sector reduces drastically. Even if we say green cover is increasing, the number of vehicles on road is also increasing every day. We have to switch to renewable energy or solar energy to reduce the carbon footprint.”
Ankur Patwardhan, Head of Annasaheb Kulkarni Department of Biodiversity, Abasaheb Garware College, Pune, said, “The increase in green cover should be focused on which type of trees are there, whether they are useful for biodiversity or not. Also it will not reduce the carbon footprint because according to the study, both the countries account for one-third of the greening, but contain only nine per cent of the planet’s land area covered in vegetation.”
The NASA study says
- About 32 per cent of the greening change in China, and 82 per cent in India, comes from intensive cultivation of food crops. The land area used to grow crops in China and India has not changed much since the early 2000s. Both countries have increased their annual total green leaf area and food production. The agricultural
- greening was achieved through multiple cropping practices, whereby a field is re-planted to produce another harvest several times a year. Production of grains, vegetables, and have increased by 35 to 40 per cent since 2000.
- How the greening trend may change in the future depends on numerous factors. For example, increased food production in India is facilitated by groundwater irrigation. If the groundwater is depleted, this trend may change. The researchers said the gain in greenery around the world does not necessarily offset the loss of natural vegetation in tropical regions such as Brazil and Indonesia.