Journal of Mountain Science

Review of studies on land use and land cover change in Nepal

Abstract Land use and land cover (LULC) in Nepal has undergone constant change over the past few decades due to major changes caused by anthropogenic and natural factors and their impacts on the national and regional environment and climate. This comprehensive review of past and present studies of land use and land cover change (LUCC) in Nepal concentrates on cropland, grassland, forest, snow/glacier cover and urban areas. While most small area studies have gathered data from different sources and research over a short period, across large areas most historical studies have been based on aerial photographs such as the Land Resource Mapping Project in 1986. The recent trend in studies in Nepal is to focus on new concepts and techniques to analyze LULC status on the basis of satellite imagery, with the help of geographic information system and remote sensing tools. Studies based on historical documents, and historical and recent spatial data on LULC, have clearly shown an increase in cropland areas in Nepal, and present results indicating different rates and magnitudes. A decrease in forest and snow/glacier coverage is reported in most studies. Little information is available on grassland and urban areas from past research. The unprecedented rate of urbanization in Nepal has led to significant urban land changes over the past 30 years. Meanwhile, long term historical LUCC research in Nepal is required for extensive work on spatially explicit reconstructions on the basis of historical and primary data collection, including LULC archives and drivers for future change.

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