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A Synopsis of Farmland Abandonment and Its Driving Factors in Nepal

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Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China
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University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), Beijing 100049, China
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Wanzhou Key Regional Ecology and Environment Monitoring Station of Three Gorges Project Ecological Environmental Monitoring System, Wanzhou 404020, China
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National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal, Kathmandu Lalitpur, P.O. Box 13667, Nepal
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Central Department of Geography, Tribhuvan University, University Campus, Kirtipur, P.O. Box 44613, Nepal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 February 2020 / Revised: 13 March 2020 / Accepted: 13 March 2020 / Published: 16 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
Farmland abandonment is considered as an important phenomenon for changing eco-environmental and sociocultural landscapes of mountainous rural landscape. Many studies have analyzed farmland abandonment, its driving factors, geophysical processes and consequences at landscape: however, very few have focused on mountainous developing countries such as in Nepal, which is a rapidly urbanizing country suffering from serious farmland abandonment. Therefore, our study was an attempt to (i) assess the spatiotemporal extent of farmland abandonment in Nepal, (ii) explore driving factors of farmland abandonment, and (iii) discuss on the eco-environmental and sociocultural consequences in Nepal. We reviewed various literature, documents, and national reports to obtain a dataset pertaining to the overall status of farmland use and changes along with political and socioeconomic changes, economic development processes, and policy and governance in Nepal. Our results showed that farmland abandonment is widespread; however, it is more prevalent in the hilly and mountainous regions of Nepal. A total of 9,706,000 ha, accounting for 23.9% of the total cultivated farmland in Nepal, was abandoned during the period of 2001 to 2010. The driving factors included population growth, scattered distribution of settlements, urbanization, socio-economic development, poor access to physical services, and poor implementation of agriculture development policies. Furthermore, the increasing extent of natural disasters, malaria eradication, land reform and resettlement programs, the complex system of land ownership, land fragmentation, political instabilities, and the intensification of trading in agricultural products also acted as drivers of farmland abandonment in Nepal. Farmland abandonment generates negative effects on rural societies eco-environmentally and sociologically. Abandoned plots were subjected to different forms of geomorphic damage (e.g. landslide, debris flows, gully formation, sinkhole development etc.). Farmland landscape fragmented into a group of smaller interspersed patches. Such patches were opened for grassland. Furthermore, farmland abandonment also has effects on the local population and the whole society in terms of the production of goods (e.g., foods, feed, fiber), as well as services provided by the multi-functionality (e.g. sociocultural practices, values and norms) of the agricultural landscape. Therefore, this study plays an important role in planning and implementing eco-environmental management and social development processes in Nepal. View Full-Text
Keywords: farmland abandonment; driving factors; eco-environmental consequences; mountain region; Nepal farmland abandonment; driving factors; eco-environmental consequences; mountain region; Nepal
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Chaudhary, S.; Wang, Y.; Dixit, A.M.; Khanal, N.R.; Xu, P.; Fu, B.; Yan, K.; Liu, Q.; Lu, Y.; Li, M. A Synopsis of Farmland Abandonment and Its Driving Factors in Nepal. Land 2020, 9, 84.

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