At some point, many scientists working in geographic fields may have asked themselves if there is any “use” in the work we do. The main aim of a study should not be to get it published in a high impact journal but to share research results with as many people as possible. However, here comes the dilemma, high impact journals are recognized by a much wider audience, so in the end it does matter where the study is published. Our paper just published in Nature Sustainability made it into the News and Views section of Nature with the nice title “Satellite images show China going green“. It is a great summary of our work and helps to reach an even larger audience.
So what makes this work so attractive? The human footprint in satellite images is traditionally linked with degradation, conversion of forest areas into farmlands or urban areas and air pollution. Especially large population countries with a boosting economy, like China, are usually linked with the destruction of the environment. However, here we show that management and conservation activities in China can lead to a large increase in vegetation cover and carbon stocks, in spite of drought conditions. The observed increase in vegetation growth does not only improve the ecological environment by alleviating degradation, but also the magnitude of increase is found to be large enough to contribute to a greening Earth and store large amounts of carbon.
We are happy that this message made it into the Nature News section, which is certainly among the top places where scientific results can end up. It is a nice confirmation that what we do does matter and is recognized at highest levels.