Impact of thirteen run‑of‑river hydroelectric projects on land use land cover and ecosystem services in Nepal

Read an article based on the effects of small hydropower projects on land cover in their respective basins in Nepal. The article published in December 23, 2022 in International Journal of Water Resources a new Journal published under Springer. The research was completed in collaboration with Environment Protection and Study Center (ENPROSC),School of Civil Engineering (SCE), Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) Vellore, Vellore, India and Kathmandu University, Nepal with participation from two ENPROSC members Sanjila Neupane and Sandesh Neupane. Read an abstract of the article published below or click below to redirect to the full journal.

Land use and land cover have a signifcant impact on microclimate and hydrological retroaction in watersheds centred on hydroelectric projects. However, major studies are limited to land use and land cover dynamics after the inception of the projects. The present study examines the environmental implications of thirteen small run-of-river hydroelectric facilities in Nepal before and after they were installed. The landscape areas for selected hydroelectric projects were acquired using a Digital Elevation Model and overlaid on Landsat images of 2013 and 2019. The study reveals that a substantial transformation of land use and land cover occurred during the chosen period. Settlement expansion was observed at the expense of barren land and agricultural land, green vegetation declined whereas water areas increased extensively in ten watersheds, subsiding in the remaining three watersheds and the ecosystem service values were found to increase by 9.95%. The highest contributing land use land cover class was water, followed by forest and agriculture land. This study presents evidence of physical impacts such as land transition and ecosystem service changes in the watersheds of hydroelectric projects distressing ecosystem elements and their functions. It also envisages integration of land use and land cover study and ecosystem service values in environmental assessment reports and suggests holistic methodology for accessing hydro-morphological aspects while maintaining equilibrium between environmental and development activities.

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