How to cite this article: Mamta L, Ram A M, Prashid K. Effects of Ecotourism on Land Use Land Cover Dynamics: A Study from Shivapuri Watershed.
Agri Res& Tech: Open Access J. 2019; 19(5): 556105. DOI: 10.19080/ARTOAJ.2019.19.556105
The ecotourism activities have been affecting the land cover and land use of the Shivpuri watershed, but assessment was not done before to show the dynamics. Thus, this study was objectively done to assess status and Land Use and Land Cover Change between 1999 and 2016, identify to status of ecotourism, major ecotourism sites and activities and trend of tourists in Shivapuri watershed. The Landsat ETM+ satellite image of November 1999 and OLI 2016 were downloaded from USGS website. Shivapur watershed site was clipped using ERDAS. Next, the image was classified using supervised maximum likelihood algorithm to produce the thematic map. In addition, altogether 216 and 233 training samples collected from the field observation and were used for accuracy assessment of classified maps of 1999 and 2016 respectively. The result showed that thematic map of 1999 and 2016. The map of 1999 showed that the main land cover was forest cover around 2514 ha followed by Agriculture land 355 ha. Similarly, classified map of 2016 showed that forest cover was 2404 ha. The difference in land use land cover was -110, -106, 198 and 18 ha in forest cover, agriculture, degraded forest and settlement respectively. The identified ecotourism activities were Jungle drive, trekking, hiking, bicycling, videography, wildlife viewing and bird watching. The effects of ecotourism on land use land cover dynamics were more towards the northeast part of the watershed. There were only10850 visitors (7450 Nepali and 3400 foreigners) in 1994/1995 which reached 209717 (193178 Nepali and 16539 foreigners) in 2016/2017. This research will be useful to assess the dynamics of land cover and land use and their real reason.
Keywords: Land use; Land cover; Eco-tourism; Supervised
Abbrevations: LULC: Land Use and Land Cover; USGS: United State Geological Survey; RGB: Red Green Blue
Social activities are stimulating land use and land cover to change. Specifically, the consequences are changing in biodiversity, water and earth radiation and ultimately climate and biosphere . The maps of different periods provide continuous land cover changes [2,3]. The tourism industry and activities play a major role in changing the surroundings [4,5]. It is one of the major driving forces behind land use and landscape changes in the coastal, mountain areas . Even well-intentioned ecotourists might modify habitats and disturb the habit, feeding and breeding patterns of wildlife and transmit diseases .
When adopting ecotourism as a conservation practice, there arises tight linkage between the influence of economics, uncertainty and confidence in proposed land-use changes . Integrated ecotourism development program has the highest values in comparison to other land use programs [9,10]. Some environmentalists believe that the tourism industry, to some extent, leads to unsustainability [11,12] because it creates the stressful environment. On the other hand, ecotourism is a very good income source for local people [13-15]. These days, eco and nature tourism are growing three times faster globally than the tourism industry as
a whole . This might be due to rapid businesses like ecolodges, ecotour operators, and suppliers of transport services and infrastructures within a given ecotourism destination and hotel chains, airline and cruise ship operations, and retail travel agents represents non-specialized businesses, ranging from small- and medium-sized enterprises to transnational corporations [13,16].
The need for monitoring of land use and land cover (LULC) dynamics is significantly important to deal under the environmental service and ecotourism . The monitoring activities include the spatial and temporal distribution of land use land cover . For instance, it is essential to quantify the change to ensure that appropriate management policies and ecosystem services provided by forests [19,20]. Moreover, the analyzing the process of land use pattern changes helps to predict the changes and prepare the best local development policies . Such study is importantly rational in Nepal particularly in case of promising ecotourism site like Shivapuri watershed where thousands of visitors come.
Thus, this study was objectively carried out to assess the status of land use land cover dynamics during 1999 and 2016 in Shivapuri watershed, to assess the status of ecotourism in Shivapuri waAbstract tershed and their effects on land use land cover dynamics and to
find how People’s perceive about status of ecotourism and their
This study was conducted in Shivapuri watershed of Shivapuri
Nagarjun National Park located between 27°45’N to 27°48’N latitude
and 85°23’E to 85°28’E longitude (Figure 1). The study area
covers 3070 ha. The altitude of the study area ranges between
1398-2692m above the mean sea level. The watershed primarily
covers Sundarijal village and is located at the northeast corner of
Kathmandu city . Subtropical to temperate vegetation specifically,
Pinusroxburghii, Schimawalichii, Castanopsisindica, Alnusnepalensis,
Quercussemi carpifolia etc.  were found here.
Two periodic remotely sensed Landsat 7 ETM+satellites and
Landsat 8 OLI/TIRS images with path 141 and row 41 particularly
of 1999 and 2016 have been used to prepare land use land cover
maps of the study area. Digital Image data files were downloaded
in zipped files from the United State Geological Survey (USGS). The
cloud and noise-free images were used for the research work.
Details about the images are included in the Table 1. Topographical
map (Scale 1:25000) of the study area published by Government
of Nepal, Department of Survey was digitized by manual
digitization. This map was used for ground truth information for
image classification and accuracy assessment of 1999. Also, this
was used as a base map for the comparison of the major changes
on ecotourism sites from 1999 till 2016. Direct observation was
done along the study area to observe the eco visits to major ecotourism
sites and major activities. Also, degraded forest was properly
observed. Major forest types, agricultural crops and hotels
and services were observed carefully. Training samples were collected
with GPS during the field visit. These were used for image
classification and accuracy assessment of 2016 image.
The repetitive satellite remote sensing over various spatial
and temporal scales has been one of the cost-effective means to
generate information about forest cover, vegetation type and land
use changes [23-25]. The TIFF format of satellite images were exported
to image format in ERDAS Imagine® 2015 software using
layer stack function. In order to interpret and discriminate the surface features clearly, all satellite images were composed using Red
Green Blue (RGB) colour composition. Both satellite images were
sub-mapped (subset) for covering only the study area (Shivapuri
Watershed). Then, the training samples corresponding to different
land use classes collected from field visit were used to classify the
image of 2016. Four land use land cover classes were used.
c. Degraded Forest.
These images were processed for evaluating land use and
land cover change. In the meantime, images were classified using
supervised classification approach applying the maximum likelihood
algorithm. Reasonable choices of training samples, an appropriate
projection of UTM/WGS 84, zone 45 N and appropriate
symbologies were made for the classification.
The changes were related in response to ecotourism purpose.
User’s accuracy, Producer’s accuracy as well as overall Kappa accuracy
were calculated using the 216 and 233 training sample
points for classified images of 1999 and 2016 respectively. For
this, the confusion table was used .
Meanwhile, KII was conducted with village leaders, individuals
who have been living in the area for a long time, Assistant
Conservation Officers of SNNP, Chairperson of Council, and Head
of Sundarijal Sector (SNNP). They were questioned about the role
of ecotourism in SNNP, major ecotourism sites, visitors’ nature
regarding environmental awareness, effects of ecotourism on
land use, level of integration between people and park authorities,
the participation of people in conservation, ongoing outreach
programs and their commitment. There were four villages in the
study area namely Okhreni, Chilaune, Mulkharka and Mahankal.
Total 98 households were selected for the purpose of the questionnaire
survey. Simple random sampling with 20% sampling intensity
was applied for the household.
The land use maps for 1999 and 2016 are presented in Figure
2 and 3 respectively and the area under the four land use classes
during the study period is shown in Table 1. As the post classification
of Landsat image of 1999 shows that the main land cover is
of forest covering 2514ha after Agriculture land occupying 355ha
of the total 3070ha land area. Similarly, settlement area occupied
31ha and degraded forest occupied 170ha. Similarly, the classified
image of 2016 still shows the main land cover as forest covering
2404ha of the total land cover after degraded forest which occupies
368ha with minimum land coverage by a settlement of 49ha
after agriculture of 249ha area. Forested land shrunk by 110ha
and agricultural land shrunk by 106ha between 1999 and 2016 whereas degraded forest increased by 198ha and settlement area
increased by a small amount of 18ha (Table 1 & Figure 2 and 3).
The overall accuracy was 0.84 in case of the classified map of
the image of 1999 and 0.87 for the map of 2016. The Kappa coefficient
showed 0.82 and 0.85 for the classified map of the image of
1999 and 2016 respectively (Table 2).
Source: Field observation.
Results show that degraded forest and settlement area increased
while agriculture and forest area decreased during the
study period. Specifically, about 7.02% forest (176.13ha) was
converted into agriculture, degraded forest and settlement. Meanwhile,
the 57.06 ha degraded forest has also changed into the forest
and other areas (Table 3 and Figure 4).
Cultural trails and roads, viewpoints, waterfall, Shiva temple
and Deurali Bhanjyang Monastery are the major attractive ecotourism
sites for domestic and international tourists (Figure 5 and
Table 4). These activities have an obvious effect on ecotourism.
Source: Field observation.
The park has started provision for compulsory nature guide
for ecotourists since fiscal year 2015/16 in order to provide maximum
information regarding the park, wildlife and plants species,
making the park visit more managed and secure and providing
employment opportunities for young people.
The ecotourism activities are successful to allure the local and
foreigner to visit Shivapuri watershed. In the beginning, there
were only 10850 visitors (7450 Nepali and 3400 foreigners) in
1994/1995 which reached 209717 (193178 Nepali and 16539
foreigners) in 2016/2017. This was around 387% between this
period (Figure 5).
The forest is predominated cover in the study area (Table 1)
which is supported by the data of Shivapur National Park. “The
land use pattern in and around SNNP is predominated by forest
followed by shrubland, cultivated land and respectively. The cover
of forest land is 117.57km2 (73.94%), followed bush/shrub land-
32.02km2 (20.14%), and grassland 0.70km2 (0.44%). The other
minor land use types accounting for 0.8km2 out of 159km2 total
land area represented by grassland- 0.70km2 (0.44%), barren
land- 0.06km2 (0.04%), pond or lakes- 0.01km2 (0.01%) and river,
streams and cliffs 0.03km2 (0.02%)”
The map for dynamics of land use land cover of 1999 and
2016 is presented in Figure 6. Maximum of forest area has been
degraded due to the cutting of trees for infrastructural development
and illegal felling of trees. The forest degradation is supported
by authors  who advocated the observed land use changes
into Sundarijal catchment of 1990 and 2010 suggests an overall
decline in forest land by 6.71km2 (0.91%) but this was not supported
by authors . The latter research was not supportive
which might be because it did not separate the forest from the degraded
forest or subdivided forest cover as;
b. Degraded forest.
If degraded forest in this research would not have been considered,
there would have been an increase in forest cover and
would resonate with the result of authors .
Agricultural land raised by 25.5km2 (0.72%) during 1990-
2010 in Sundarijal catchment . But, according to the result,
agricultural land decreased by 3.6% and maximum change was
seen in agricultural land use towards degraded forest (Table 1).
Maximum of agriculture has been abandoned (Figure 6, Table
3) due to less productivity of agricultural land and occupational
shifts of villagers. Most of the villagers either migrated towards
the city or choose any other profession for livelihood in recent
years. So, a number of trees grew in agricultural land resulting in
the degraded forest.
The report showing the increasing trend of foreign visitors in
SNNP (Figure 5) is also supported by 14 authors who advocates
travel to developing countries has been increasing. Over one-third
of the modern-day tourist who now holiday abroad do so in the
developing world because it offers a cheaper alternative to domestic
holidays or holidays in other developed countries and the
majority of tourists from developing nations wanting to escape
northern hemisphere winter are attracted towards the climate of
developing nations. However, there is a decline in foreign visitors
in Fiscal year 2014/15 and 2015/16 which might be due to the
2015 earthquake in Nepal that threatened the visitors in terms of
life security. But then in 2016/17, foreign visitors are slightly increasing
(Figure 5). Similarly, the trend of national visitors visiting
Shivapuri is increasing rapidly which might be due to the increasing
pollution in the city area and their realization for the importance
of nature and biodiversity in recent years.
The ecotourism led-development of the road system from Mahankal
to Dhap along the Nagmatiriver can be highly correlated
with forest cover change to the degraded forest (Figure 5, Figure
6). The observed increment in degraded forest in this route could
also be explained by the reasons: first, visitors led forest fire along
Nagmati river destroyed around 8ha Shorea robusta forest ,
second, the findings of the study conducted by authors  suggest
a higher rate of forest loss in areas closer to the roads, in comparison
with the more remote areas.
Simultaneously, improvement in forest cover from degraded
forest is also seen mostly towards the southern part of the watershed
which might be due to those areas proximity to Nepal
Army monitoring and ecotourism development interventions and
awareness in recent years which is supported by authors 
who advocated a higher amount of forest gain and improvement
in an area of better accessibility. But, none of the settlement areas
changed into forest area because the settlement area is totally enclosed
by agricultural land use.
The effectiveness of tourism activities has been influencing the
land cover and land use. The natural resources have been changed
due to modernization. These changes can be clearly monitored applying
the analysis of different period of images. The results are
the evidence of effects of ecotourism led development on land use
and land cover.
There was an improvement in forest cover towards the southwest
and south-east part and forest cover degradation towards
northern and north-east part were recorded. Positive changes in
forest cover towards the south-west and south-east part of the watershed
signify, to some extent, the success of proper ecotourism
efforts of management authorities.
The main ecotourism activities were Jungle drive, trekking,
hiking, bicycling, videography, wildlife viewing and bird watching.
The finding will be a useful tool for the scientific community and
policymakers to develop the plan and decision support system.
Some effective policies are needed for mutual benefits to ecotourism
to address the increasing number of tourists.
We acknowledge the park authority and local people who
supported to complete this research work. Specifically, we
acknowledge warden Mr Kamal Jung Kunwar and Principal Dr
Ambika Prasad Gautam and our friends DiptyPoudel and Manoj