Socio-economic factors and management regimes as drivers of tree cover change in Nepal

Article


Shrestha, Sujata, Shrestha, Uttam B. and Bawa, Kamal. 2018. "Socio-economic factors and management regimes as drivers of tree cover change in Nepal." PEERJ. 6, pp. 1-25. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4855
Article Title

Socio-economic factors and management regimes as drivers of tree cover change in Nepal

ERA Journal ID211193
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsShrestha, Sujata (Author), Shrestha, Uttam B. (Author) and Bawa, Kamal (Author)
Journal TitlePEERJ
Journal Citation6, pp. 1-25
Article Numbere4855
Number of Pages25
Year2018
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN2167-8359
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4855
Web Address (URL)https://peerj.com/articles/4855/
Abstract

Despite the local and global importance of forests, deforestation is driven by various socio-economic and biophysical factors continues in many countries. In Nepal, in response to massive deforestation, the community forestry program has been implemented to reduce deforestation and support livelihoods. After four decades of its inception, the effectiveness of this program on forest cover change remains mostly unknown. This study analyses the spatial and temporal patterns of tree cover change along with a few socio-economic drivers of tree cover change to examine the effectiveness of the community forestry program for conserving forests or in reducing deforestation. We also investigate the socio-economic factors and policy responses as manifested through the community forestry program responsible for the tree cover change at the district level. The total tree cover area in the year 2000 in Nepal was ∼4,746,000 hectares, and our analysis reveals that between 2001 and 2016, Nepal has lost ∼46,000 ha and gained ∼12,200 ha of areas covered by trees with a substantial spatial and temporal variations. After accounting socio-economic drivers of forest cover change, our analysis showed that districts with the larger number of community forests had a minimum loss in tree cover, while districts with the higher proportion of vegetation covered by community forests had a maximum gain in tree cover. This indicates a positive contribution of the community forestry program to reducing deforestation and increasing tree cover.

Keywordstree cover, community forestry, Nepal, forest loss, deforestation, geographic information system, remote sensing
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020410404. Environmental management
410401. Conservation and biodiversity
Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Massachusetts, United States
Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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