Impact of Land Cover Change on Ecosystem Services in a Tropical Forested Landscape

Ecosystems provide a wide range of goods, services or ecosystem services (ES) to society. Estimating the impact of land use and land cover (LULC) changes on ES values (ESV) is an important tool to support decision making. This study used remote sensing and GIS tools to analyze LULC change and transitions from 2001 to 2016 and assess its impact on ESV in a tropical forested landscape in the southern plains of Nepal. The total ESV of the landscape for the year 2016 is estimated at USD 1264 million year-1. As forests are the dominant land cover class and have high ES value per hectare, they have the highest contribution in total ESV. However, as a result of LULC change (loss of forests, water bodies, and agricultural land), the total ESV of the landscape has declined by USD 11 million year-1. Major reductions come from the loss in values of climate regulation, water supply, provision of raw materials and food production. To halt the ongoing loss of ES and maintain the supply and balance of different ES in the landscape, it is important to properly monitor, manage and utilize ecosystems. We believe this study will inform policymakers, environmental managers, and the general public on the ongoing changes and contribute to developing effective land use policy in the region.

Author(s): Sharma, R.; Rimal, B.; Baral, H.; Nehren, U.; Paudyal, K.; Sharma, S.; Rijal, S.; Ranpal, S,; Acharya, R.P.; Alenazy, A.A.; Kandel, P.

Year: 2019