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    STUDIA GEOGRAPHIA - Issue no. 1 / 2016  

Authors:  .
  Abstract:  Determinants of Cultivated Land Abandonment in the Hills of Western Nepal. This paper deals with the change in agricultural land use pattern in the Andhi khola watershed of Syangja district, Western hills of Nepal, where the population has decreased for the last two decades, which is being the main cause of the agricultural land abandonment, resulting into increase in the fallow lands and vegetation wilderness. This phenomenon has also occurred elsewhere in other parts of the hill region of Nepal, resulting in labor deficit in the agriculture activities. Landsat images of 1999 and 2014 have been used for land use change. Topographic map has been used as the map source. DEM was generated from the contours of the topographic map to derive altitude, slope gradient and slope aspect. The Geographically Weighted Regression Model has been used for prediction of abandonment of cultivated land by location across the study region as well as to identify local variability of the strength of the explanatory variables. Changes in population and altitudinal variation are found as significant factors of agricultural land abandonment. Besides, slope gradient and slope aspect are also found as determining factors. Combined effects of accessibility, landform, land suitability, and irrigation facility on change in agricultural land use pattern are the result of greater strength of the altitudinal variation effect. The lowland areas together with easy access to market and better irrigation facilities are found suitable for the cultivation of a variety of crops. Therefore, these areas have less land abandonment as compared to the highland areas, which were used by local residents for cultivation, though marginal. It is concluded that most of the previously cultivated marginal land in the hills has released population pressure, resulting into land abandonment, which is further accelerated by institutional weaknesses.

Keywords: depopulation, explanatory variables, Geographically Weighted Regression, land abandonment, local coefficient, outmigration.
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