Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (10): 1519-1537.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1559-9

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatiotemporal changes in agricultural land cover in Nepal over the last 100 years

PAUDEL Basanta1,2(), Yili ZHANG1,2,3*(), Shicheng LI1,2,4, Linshan LIU1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), Beijing 100049, China
    3. CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    4. School of Public Administration, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
  • Received:2017-05-09 Accepted:2017-07-27 Online:2018-10-25 Published:2018-10-25
  • About author:

    Author: Basanta Paudel, PhD Candidate, specialized in land use/land cover change and climate change adaptation. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41371120;International Partnership Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.131C11KYSB20160061;The Chinese Academy of Sciences - The World Academy of Sciences (CAS-TWAS) President’s Fellowship Program for PhD Study


In order to advance land use and land cover change (LUCC) research in Nepal, it is essential to reconstruct both the spatiotemporal distribution of agricultural land cover as well as scenarios that can explain these changes at the national and regional levels. Because of rapid population growth, the status of agricultural land in Nepal has changed markedly over the last 100 years. Historical data is used in this study, encompassing soils, populations, climatic variables, and topography. Data were revised to a series of 30 m grid cells utilized for agricultural land suitability and allocation models and were analyzed using a suite of advanced geographical tools. Our reconstructions for the spatiotemporal distribution of agricultural land in Nepal reveal an increasing trend between 1910 and 2010 (from 151.2 × 102 km2 to 438.8 × 102 km2). This expanded rate of increase in agricultural land has varied between different eco, physiographic, and altitudinal regions of the country, significantly driven by population changes and policies over the period of this investigation. The historical dataset presented in this paper fills an existing gap in studies of agricultural land change and can be applied to other carbon cycle and climate modeling studies, as well as to impact assessments of agricultural land change in Nepal.

Key words: agricultural land, reconstruction, land suitability for cultivation, altitudinal variation, Nepal