What drives cropland abandonment in community-forest landscape? A case study from mid hills of Nepal

Authors: Rajesh Bista*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Land Use, Asia
Keywords: Agriculture Land Use, Cropland Abandonment, Multi-level Modelling, Community Forestry, Socio-Environmental Systems, Nepal
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 45
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Cropland abandonment has been a land management issue for several decades, threatening global food security. Understanding the factors contributing to CLA would enable us to improve agriculture land management. It is also crucial for the development and implementation of agricultural and natural resource policies. Despite many studies focused on this topic, we still lack in-depth understanding of the dynamics of integrated socioeconomic and environmental systems influencing cropland abandonment. This study is conducted in the community forest landscape in the middle hills of Nepal. Community forestry in the mid-hills is an integral part of agriculture-based livelihood, which may have played a critical role in cropland abandonment. We collected qualitative data through focus group discussion, key informant interviews, review of local community forest management documents, and quantitative socioeconomic data through 415 household survey. We geolocated all 1264 cropland parcels owned by these households and recorded their use status. From our analysis, we found that there is an increasing trend of cropland abandonment due to multiple socio-economic, ecological, and biophysical factors. The likelihood of cropland abandonment is linked to household characteristics such as families having more out-migrants, female-headed household, non-agriculture occupation of household-head, and having a larger size of agriculture landholding. The study also shows that cropland parcels that are far from the household, close to the forest edge, with shading effects, and on steeper slopes are more likely to be abandoned. These findings provide key information for policymakers to devise effective cropland abandonment measures and develop sustainable agriculture in rural Nepal.

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