Understanding land cover and land use changes and its drivers in South and South East Asia

03 Nov 2014

Scientists from the region and the United State of America gathered at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) headquarter in Kathmandu, Nepal, to discuss major transition activities and the causes of Land Cover and Land Use Change (LCLUC) and its dynamics in South and South East Asia.

The workshop, held on 3 and 4 November 2014, was jointly organized by ICIMOD and the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, USA. Issues such as deforestation, changes in cropland and grazing land, agriculture intensification, urbanization, and other drivers of change were discussed at the gathering.

Opening the workshop, ICIMOD’s Director General Dr David Molden said land cover data played a crucial role in the works of various regional programmes at the Centre. He acknowledged the role of SERVIR in facilitating such exchange of knowledge. SERVIR programme is a joint initiative of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). SERVIR-Himalaya is implemented by ICIMOD.

Scientists from the region and the United State of America gathered to discuss Land Cover Land Use Change in South and South East Asia.
Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya

ICIMOD’s Director for Strategic Cooperation Basanta Shrestha said climate and socio-ecological changes have direct impact on land surfaces, and understanding LCLUC is critical for sustainable management of natural resources. He added that ICIMOD has been working with national partners in the regional member countries for standardized and harmonized land cover mapping and change assessment as part of accounting natural resources.

Dr Atul Jain from the Department of Atmospheric Sciences in University of Illinois, USA said having more ground based facts, local scale analysis of data and evaluating satellite data with ground data would enhance more user benefits for understanding land cover land use change.

Dr Ruth DeFries of Columbia University said the workshop was a very good start in synthesizing LCLUC data and drivers. “We discussed a broad range of land cover conditions and drivers across the region,” she said, adding that detailed understanding through case studies are needed to complement national and global scale data.

Partha S. Roy, Chair Professor, University Center for Earth and Space Sciences, University of Hyderabad, India, said LCLUC data is an important input in planning a country’s economic development and sustainability. “Land use and land cover dynamics need to be understood with drivers of change for developing adaptation and mitigation strategies,” he said.

Closing the workshop, ICIMOD’s Director Programme Operations Dr Eklabya Sharma emphasized the importance of validating LCLUC models with ground realities for better decision making and policy formulation.

MENRIS Regional Programme Manager Birendra Bajracharya briefed the participants about the ongoing effects of SERVIR-Himalaya in developing LCLUC information and linking them to operational system in the HKH region.

One of the main outcomes of the workshop will be a synthesized paper on the available LCLUC datasets and its drivers of changes in the South and South East Asia region.