Chaplin, J. & Brabyn, L. (2013). Using remote sensing and GIS to investigate the impacts of tourism on forest cover in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal. Applied Geography, 43, 159-168.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/8029
Tourism is Nepal's largest industry, giving people in rural areas an alternative to subsistence farming. Tourism can have an impact on the forest cover of a region as trees provide firewood for cooking and heating and timber for building accommodation. In 1986 the Annapurna Conservation Area Project was established to ensure that tourism was managed more sustainably, which includes minimising its impact on the forest cover. This study assesses the impacts of tourism on the forest cover in the Annapurna region by comparing Landsat images from 1999 to 2011. This was achieved through spectral classification of different land cover and by assessing the change in forest cover in relation to increasing distances from tourism villages. A major problem with remote sensing in mountainous regions such as Nepal is shadow caused by the relief. This issue was addressed by only assessing areas which were free from shadow, which in effect meant a sample was used rather than the whole study region. The results indicate that there has been an 8 percent reduction in overall forest extent, but this change varies by region. In the northern, drier regions there has been a net increase in forest cover, while in the southern regions there has been a net reduction in forests. The influence of tourism facilities on forest is also variable. Around each of the tourism villages sampled there was a general trend of forest removal decreasing as the distance from each village increased, which indicates tourism does have a negative impact on forests. However, there was an opposite trend in the northern villages that were well inside the conservation area.