Anthropogenic impacts on forest land use and land cover change: Modelling future possibilities in the Himalayan Terai

Shovik Deb, Manoj K. Debnath, Somsubhra Chakraborty, David C. Weindorf, Deo Kumar, Dibyendu Deb, Ashok Choudhury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

The northern part of West Bengal, India partially falls within the Terai region of Himalaya. This region is distinctive in terms of high forest cover and rich biodiversity, but also features increasing human population, agricultural practices, and subsequent human-wildlife conflict. This study evaluated the impact of anthropogenic and agricultural proliferation on land use and land cover (LULC) transition dynamics of a forest and its surrounding area of this region. Jaldapara National Park along with its neighbouring region represents an ideal example of such ecology and thus was chosen as the study area. Satellite remote sensing was used to overcome accessibility issues in areas of protected forest and model future possible LULC of the area. Results indicated a continuous decrease in dense forest from 1978 to 2016. Modelling predicted a continuation of the same trend through 2050. The total area under forest increased from 1978 to 2001, possibly due to declaration of a part of the forest as a wildlife sanctuary in 1976 and subsequent increase in supervision and surveillance. However, total forest area started to decline from 2001 and future reductions are possible. Cultivated lands increased from 1978 to 2016 and additional future increase is likely due to a commensurate surge in human population in areas adjacent to the forest. In sum, increasing population pressure, agricultural production demands, and high human intervention in forest ecology were identified as possible causes of temporal forest degradation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalAnthropocene
Volume21
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018

Keywords

  • Anthropogenic interferences
  • Forest
  • LULC change dynamics
  • LULC forecasting

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