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Mapping spatio-temporal pattern of forest canopy density dynamic in relation to governing factors in the Terai of Nepal

Menaka Panta
PhD student
Inha University,
Email: mnkneupane@yahoo.com

Kyehyun Kim
Inha University
Email: kyehyun@inha.ac.kr

Natural functioning of the forest canopy density in tropic is essentially important to prevent the loss of biodiversity, soil and water degradation, climate change and global warming, genetic engineering. Forest canopy is one of the major factors to assess the forest status and is an important indicator of possible management interventions. For centuries, human disruption activities on forest such as illegal logging, felling and harvesting of valuable timber have continuously increased and there is no sign of slowing down yet. Further, the depletion rate of deforestation and forest degradation in tropic is alarming resulted issues have attracted steadily growing concerns in the recent decades.

Many studies have been reported that the tropical forest canopy of Nepal is severely degraded. A series of interconnected causes such as human dimensions, population growth, landuse change, poverty and government policies have been responsible for degradation. Terai of Nepal is highly considered as high productive agriculture land than anywhere in Nepal. Similarly, most of the deprived community in rural Terai still depends on the occupational opportunities based on the direct use of forest resources. A review of socio-political and resources conservation history of the Terai also suggests that the priority concern was to exploit the high-value forests for commercial purposes rather than environmental conservation.

The main objective of this study is to investigate the spatio-temporal pattern of forest canopy density dynamic in respect to governing factors in the Terai of Nepal. Canopy cover percentage (%) and human disturbances will record from the field sample plots. Certain parameters of climatic, physical/biophysical, and socioeconomic will be considered for the governing factors in this analysis. Similarly, Landsat TM of 1976, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000 and ASTER of 2005 will be use to predict the forest canopy density dynamic over the periods. Aerial Photographs of 1982, 1988, 1994/1996 will be use to generate the ground truth data for landuse analysis. Topographic map of scale 1:25000 year 1996 will be also use.

ArcGIS and ILWIS SW will be use to generate the map and analyze the climatic, physical /biophysical data. ERDAS, ENVI, and FCD Mapper will be use to classify the satellite imagery and predict the forest canopy density. Vegetation Indices will be use to produce the different map to compare with the classified forest canopy density maps. Different SW & statistics such as SPSS, Minitab, MS excel, descriptive statistics, ANOVA, Regression & Correlation analysis and so on will be performed to validate the results.

The expected output of this study would be the qualitative and quantitative prediction of forest canopy density dynamic of the study area over the periods. Severity map of forest canopy will show the further possibility of canopy depletion in the study area. The relationship between climatic factors and spatio-temporal dynamic of forest canopy density will be executed. Similarly, forest canopy dynamic of the study area in relation to human intervention will be executed. Different socioeconomic factors will be assessed and relation will be established with canopy density dynamic. Physical & biophysical parameters of the study area will show the relation to canopy density based on proximity function.

The implication of this study will emphasize the importance of site-specific microclimatic variation and empirical observations of the forest canopy dynamic while applying remote sensing and GIS techniques. Maps displaying forest canopy dynamic could be useful to planner for further planning and immediate start to intervention on area where canopy has severely depleted. So, actual knowledge of spatio-temporal distribution of forest canopy dynamic in regards with governing factors is necessarily important in decision making process. It could help to form a critical component for immediate intervention, sustainable forest management, forest ecosystems and long term strategic planning for the preserving biological diversity.