Article

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

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Abstract

Land use and land cover have a significant 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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The ecosys­tems pro­vide a range of ma­te­r­ial as well as non-ma­te­r­ial ser­vices that con­tribute to hu­man well-be­ing as well as sup­ply nec­es­sary re­sources for the or­gan­isms. The land use/ land cover (LU/ LC) changes have been taken place due to sev­eral nat­ural and an­thro­pogenic rea­sons, which sig­nif­i­cantly in­flu­ence the ecosys­tem ser­vices. There­fore, the pre­sent study aimed to ex­plore the mi­nor vari­a­tions of ecosys­tem ser­vices pro­vided by the par­tic­u­lar land use types of the study area. There­fore, we have di­vided the study area into nine grids. The land use land cover clas­si­fi­ca­tions have been per­formed us­ing sup­port vec­tor ma­chine tech­niques (SVM) for 1999–2019. Based on the multi-tem­po­ral land use land cover maps, we have used the global co­ef­fi­cient value of 1997 and 2003 for val­u­a­tion of ecosys­tem ser­vices for dif­fer­ent land use types. Then we have em­ployed elas­tic­ity tech­niques to analyse the re­sponse of land use land cover changes over the ecosys­tem ser­vice val­u­a­tion. The find­ings showed that the over­all built-up area has in­creased by 29.14% since 1999, while the over­all wa­ter-body has de­creased by 15.81%. There­fore, the ecosys­tem ser­vices pro­vided by wa­ter-body have been de­creased cor­re­spond­ingly and the 29.14% ar­eas that con­verted to built-up area from oth­ers land use types do not able to pro­vide any ecosys­tem ser­vices and the ecosys­tem ser­vice val­ues be­come nil, which is not suit­able for good health ecosys­tem. There­fore, the study can be the foun­da­tion to the plan­ners and sci­en­tists to pre­pare sus­tain­able plans for the man­age­ment of lo­cal ecosys­tem based on mi­norly study on the im­pact of LULC changes on the ecosys­tem ser­vices.
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Identification of vegetation changes and economic valuation of natural resources are important to strengthen national economy and sustainable environment development. This study identified the changes in vegetation and ecosystem service values at the national and provincial scales in Nepal from 2000 to 2017. Mann Kendall test statistics and Sen's slope were computed for temporal and spatial normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values in each pixel having a spatial resolution of 250 m and at 16-days interval. Land cover types were defined based on the NDVI values and applied ecosystem service values (ESV) coefficient. Results show that NDVI has significantly increased in Nepal with an average trend of 0.0018 yr⁻¹ during 2000–2017. Except for Province 6, the NDVI has increased significantly in all the provinces. Results additionally suggested a 27.88% greening in Nepal. At the provincial scale, the highest (56.41%) and lowest (12.52%) greening were observed in Provinces 2 and 6, respectively. In 2017, the total ESV in Nepal was 21.88 billion USD which showed a 1.15 billion USD higher than in year 2000. The ESV has increased in forests but decreased in the croplands, grasslands and barren lands between 2000 and 2017. The ESV of national forest are estimated at 19.17 billion USD in 2017. The highest value of 4.17 billion USD and the lowest of 1.09 billion USD were found in Provinces 1 and 2, respectively. Meanwhile, the available ESV per capita was relatively higher in Province 6 and lower in the Province 2. As the ESV is important lifeline for the society, this study provides crucial information about how this important environmental parameter has changed over time in Nepal.
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p class="Default">A new Geographical Information System (GIS) approach is proposed to assess primary potential hydropower site, explicitly identifying highly possible hydropower locations spatially, over a large area in a short time. The results from this approach were validated with an existing hydropower site in the Bhote Koshi catchment in Nepal. Altogether 885 number of searches made along the river streams each covered a circular area of radius 10 km, with distance between headwork and power houses of 500 m intervals, thus, identified 297 highly potential sites out of total 2655 during evaluation. The results indicate that, 52 sub-catchments have potential areas and seven specific hydropower locations overlapped with existing hydropower projects. This approach is suitable for initial screening only and the produced results significantly facilitate further in-depth feasibility study to engineering and economic analysis for hydropower potential of the basin. HYDRO Nepal Journal Journal of Water, Energy and Environment Issue: 23 Year: 2018</p
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Many hydroelectric dams in the Brazilian Amazon have been constructed, but how dam construction influences land-cover change has not been fully examined. For our research, we selected Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, the third-largest dam in the world, to explore its impacts on major land-cover change. Multitemporal Landsat images between 2006 and 2017 were used. The maximum likelihood classifier was used to classify these Landsat images into primary forest, secondary forest, agropasture, man-made bare land, natural bare land, and water. The land-cover change was examined using the post-classification comparison approach based on different stages of dam construction, and was further examined along the upstream and downstream river buffer. The results indicate that overall classification accuracies of 89.7% and 92.3% were obtained for the 2011 and 2015 land-cover classification results, respectively. Primary forest decreased continuously from 47.8% in 2006 to 35.3% in 2017. Different stages of dam construction had various impacts, that is, before dam construction, deforestation and agropasture expansion were the major land-cover change categories; during dam construction, the increased area of man-made bare lands, the canal construction zone, and the increased area of natural bare lands downstream were obvious, in addition to deforestation and agropasture dynamics; when dam construction was complete, water bodies increased considerably upstream and decreased downstream. These big changes in water bodies may have long-term impacts on ecosystem functions and environments. This research provides new insights on the impacts of dam construction on land-cover changes, which is valuable for making better decisions about water and land resources.
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Ecosystems provide a wide range of services that are important for human-well being. Estimating the multiple services obtained from ecosystems is vital to support decision-making processes at different levels. This study analyzes land use/land cover (LU/LC) dynamics over four decades (i.e., 1973, 1986, 2001, 2015) to assess its impact on ecosystem services. Ecosystem Service Values (ESV) was determined using LU/LC analysis and established global data base. LU/LC analysis showed that forest cover reduced by 54.2% during study period; and settlement, bare land, shrub land and cultivated land increased considerably. The study indicates that due to forest cover change from 1973 to 2015, approximately US$ 3.69 million of ecosystem services values was lost. Among the ecosystem services reduced were: nutrient cycling, provision of raw material and erosion control. The use of LU/LC data along with established global ESV data sets reduce the costs of ground data collection, and help in tracking of past environmental changes and acquisition of quick and reliable results that can be used for decision making processes. We believe that the results obtained can be helpful in designing payment for environmental services and rural development policies.
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The increasing trend of glacier retreat and climate change/variability has direct impact on run-of-river hydropower schemes. This study analyses climate change risk in a Himalayan Sunkoshi river basin which consists of several existing/under-construction run-of-river hydropower schemes. Climate change impact has been examined by comparing observed and projected hydro-climatic trends. Projected monthly climatology (based on A1B emission scenario) of Meteorological Research Institute, Japan has been employed for the analysis. Observed annual minimum and lean season (January, February, March and April) discharges, which have larger significance for run-of-river schemes were analysed to identify any significant trend. The annual minimum and lean season monthly discharges were found with decreasing trend. Comparison of present and future precipitation pointed out that there will be 4.3% increase in monsoon (June, July, August and September) precipitation and 10.4% decrease in remaining months. Similarly, the study revealed that monthly temperature will be increased by 1.5 to 4.6°C.
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Nepal is rich with inland water resources and has great potential for electricity power generation. Hydropower is one of the most sustainable national income sources to increase the nation’s GNP. Relatively few water resources are under utilization, however, although some lakes in Pokhara valley and the Kulekhani storage type hydropower reservoir are successful in supporting multipurpose usage, combining electric power generation, irrigation and aquaculture. The Kaligandaki hydropower system is run of river, thus not feasible for cage fisheries; instead, it produces fingerlings of indigenous riverine fish for release into the river. The impoundments after damming the rivers adversely impact both fish biodiversity and local fishing communities. Ecosystem change destroys feeding as well as breeding grounds, with a resultant loss of fish species. Where the movement of migratory fish up and down river is affected by hydropower development, fish hatcheries near the dam sites or fish ladders for fish movement should be considered as mitigation options. Local user groups and other stakeholders should be involved in decision-making, to keep good relations concerning peoples’ livelihoods and the sustainability of aquatic resources. River systems should be thoroughly studied jointly with concerned agencies (e.g., electricity, irrigation and fisheries authorities; and local authorities) during formulation and application stages of hydroelectric power development projects. Hydro Nepal: Journal of Water, Energy and Environment Vol. 1, No. 2(2008) pp. 22-25
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There is a worldwide consensus that climate change is a real, rapidly advancing and widespread threat facing this century. This is a crucial issue in Himalayan and special in Nepal because of its possible impact on water resource, biodiversity, and consequence on economic growth of the region. The increase trend of glacial retreat and variability on temperature and participation has the direct impact on the water resource and hydropower development. Mountain regions are particularly vulnerable, both because warming trends are higher and the impacts are magnifed by the extreme changes in altitude over small distances. It indicates the great variability of hydro-climatic variability in major rivers and their tributaries. Decrease runoff will have direct impact on the hydropower development, but there is uncertainty about the role of spatial variability of changing climatic scenarios and their possible impact for hydropower development in large and middle rivers. This paper presents the scenarios of climate change in Nepal in terms of hydro-climatic variability. The frst part describes hydro-climatic variability and its uncertainty for hydropower development, and the second part deals with the mitigation of uncertainties. Key words: Climate change; Deglaciation; GLOF; Water resource; Hydrological cycle; Hydropower; Himalayas; Nepal DOI: 10.3126/hn.v6i0.4190 Hydro Nepal Vol 6, January 2010 Page : 31-34 Uploaded Date: 24 January, 2011
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Nepal's hydroelectricity potential is estimated at 83 TWh/year; at present only two percent of the nation's energy requirements are met by hydroelectricity. This paper presents a brief overview of the conceptual framework for a much larger study of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the Kulekhani Hydroelectric Project. While small in comparison to the large projects under active consideration it provides an opportunity for an analysis of the impacts of technological intervention on the local society and the immediate environment. -from Author