Land Use and Landcover Changes in Chitwan National Park and Adjacent Areas from 1988 To 2017
Advisorvan Leeuwen, Willem J.D.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractChitwan National Park (CNP) is the first National Park of Nepal established in 1973. It is a hotspot for biodiversity conservation and was added to the UNESCO’s world heritage list in 1984. CNP encompasses an area of 932 km2 whereas the administrative buffer zone has a 732 km2 extent intersecting with four districts of Nawalparasi, Chitwan, Parsa and Makwanpur. CNP and the surrounding buffer zones have experienced a range of social and political changes over the past 70 years. We found there to be a significant research gap in understanding the impact of the buffer regions around the park and on the park itself. This research was designed to study the changes that have occurred in a 4 km wide strip inside and a 4 km wide strip outside the park into seven different sections. The buffer zone that has been set by the government of Nepal, were partially encompassed by the 4 km land strip around the park. In this study, we used satellite imagery data over a span of 30 years (1988-2017) to study NDVI and land use and land cover changes. We used buffer analysis for the land strips created at various distance from the park and buffer zone boundary. The results show that there has been an effective implementation of the laws and policies of the park since the establishment of the park. The adjacent area away from the park boundary (0-0.5km) is more prone to human encroachment. The NDVI and precipitation data are highly correlated inside and outside of the park boundary. The overall conclusion of the study shows that CNP is minimally impacted despite an increase in population. This indicates that the park has been effectively managed in the recent era. The community-based forestry program has a significant role in the conservation of forest area according to management plan of CNP. However, the different sections of the park exhibit different patterns of land use and land cover change, which are due to the geographic location of the park with respect to the adjacent and intersecting districts. The CNP bordering India has the highest NDVI among all other sections. This is due to the presence of the Valmiki National Park of India. The intersection with Parsa also has the highest NDVI inside and outside the park due to the presence of Parsa Wildlife Reserve park in its adjacent area. The study shows various changes in the land cover in each sections of the park with its impact inside and outside the CNP boundary. This research provides new insights for resource management and sustainable land use. Increased high resolution data availability would give more detailed and up to date information regarding land use and land cover changes in the area. Linking remote sensing and field-based data is recommended for future validation and research purposes.
Degree ProgramGraduate College