Around 6 to 8 million young Nepali, working abroad as migrant laborers, are contributing remittances of about 28% of the annual gross domestic product of Nepal. However, due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal is not only going to lose a significant portion of remittances but will also face the Herculean task of creating employment for the workforce who may return to Nepal. This paper discusses sustainable options for the Nepali government to help create employment for its citizens in Nepal through the revitalization of fallow lands and other potential agricultural areas, which are below a 15° slope. The land-use and land-cover data for the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s are derived from the classification of satellite images. These classified and resampled 30 m × 30 m images along with the 30 × 30 m elevation data are brought to the Kibana Platform within the Amazon Web Service (AWS) to analyze the status of land-use and -cover conditions for the 1980 to 2010 period within nine different slope classes at an interval of 5° slope. Our findings suggest there have been massive conversions of forested areas for agricultural land at lower slope areas between 1980 and 2000, but the trend began to reverse from 2000 to 2010 as trees started coming back to the fallow agricultural lands. This happened mainly because, during the countrywide Maoist insurgency period (1996–2006), many youth first took shelter in various urban centers away from their natal homes and then emigrated to foreign countries for remittance purposes. As a result, many farmlands became fallow and barren, and agricultural productivity decreased. Consequently, Nepal, an exporter of rice and pulses until the late 1980s, started importing food grain each year. The major goals of this research are to explore: (a) if Nepal can self-sustain in agricultural products by utilizing potential agricultural lands below a 15° slope in various geographic regions; (b) the means for productively engaging the youth returning to the country; and (c) methods of reinvigorating the ecosystem services of Nepal to support sustainable development.
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