Land use/land cover change and ecosystem services in the Bagmati River Basin, Nepal

Environ Monit Assess. 2021 Sep 15;193(10):651. doi: 10.1007/s10661-021-09441-z.


Delivery of ecosystem services is strongly affected by changes in the land use/land cover (LULC) of an area. In this study, we analyze spatiotemporal changes in LULC of the rapidly changing Bagmati River Basin (BRB) of Nepal during 1988-2018 using Landsat satellite images. We also quantify carbon storage in different physiographic regions and LULC classes using the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs (InVEST) model and assess economic valuation of carbon using the benefit transfer method. According to our analysis, there were increases in urban/built-up (247.5%), barren land (109.5%), shrub land (32.4%), and declines in forest cover (- 6.2%), cultivated land (- 4.1%), waterbodies (- 30.3%), sand (- 29.2%), and grass cover (- 10.6%) during the study period. As a result of these changes in LULC, carbon storage declined from 31.4 million tons year-1 in 1988 (worth 157.0 million USD) to 30.8 million tons year-1 (154.1 million USD) in 2018 with the total loss of 2.9 million USD. The largest decline in stored carbon was observed in Tarai and Dun valleys, from 6.8 to 6.5 million tons (- 1.4 million USD) followed by Churia, from 7.8 to 7.6 million tons (- 1.1 million USD). Increases in carbon storage were observed in urban/built-up and shrub land areas and declines in cultivated land, forest, barren land, waterbodies and grass land. The results of LULC change and estimated carbon stock in BRB provides a baseline for planners and policy makers to formulate appropriate plans to sustainably manage the region's land cover and to mitigate carbon loss.

Keywords: Carbon storage; InVEST model; Sustainable management; Urbanization.

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Nepal
  • Rivers*