Krishna Bahadur K. C., Werner Doppler:
Integrating Micro Level and Remote Sensing Data in GIS Analyses for Natural Resources Management and Socio-economic Development -- A Case in Mountainous Watershed in Nepal


University of Hohenheim, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in Tropics and Subtropics, Germany

Poor socio-economic condition and resource degradation follow a certain spatial gradient leading to further resources degradation and socio-economic differentiation in watershed area. Watershed degradation in mountainous areas is often a core problem with serious implication for sustainable resource use and living standard of rural households. Achievement of watershed conservation and people livelihood simultaneously is not feasible with a single suitable strategy. But, a best option to address it is to divide watershed area into homogenous zones based on resource availability, utility potentials and the socio-economic situation. Then zone-based problem solving strategies can be tested in producing best possible recommendations for future.

This paper presents a methodological concept of integrating socio-economic assessment with biophysical environment with a GIS. Biophysical indicators were assessed using RS/GIS technology. Socio-economic conditions of the people were assessed based on a survey with in-depth interviews with randomly sampled families. Then these data were linked to the GIS by using each family's respective geographical positioning, and their spatial distributions were observed by interpolation. The zones were formed by integrating spatially significant socio-economic and biophysical indicators. Zone 1 characterises high level of resources degradation and low level of the living standard while that of Zone 3 features with low level of resources degradation and high level of the living standard. The Zone 2 stands for medium level of resources degradation and moderate living standard.

The results show differences in the long-term development of land use in the past following different gradient in the area. Forest resource degradation, soil losses were found to be directly correlated with the altitude and slope of the land. Similar trend was observed with spatial differentiation of living standard parameters including farm family income, food availability, dependency on resources, etc. There was direct negative correlation in between the distance from the road, market and the altitude, and the socio-economic status-e.g. family income, education level, crop production and selling. Hence it is concluded that integration of socio-economic data into the GIS system is an appropriate tool for zone delineation to formulate long"=term problem solving strategies achieving both sustainable natural resource management and better livelihood simultaneously.

Keywords: Degradation, GIS, integration, land use change, Nepal, resource use, remote sensing, rural development, socio-economic situation, soil loss, watershed, zone

Full paper:


Contact Address: Krishna Bahadur K. C., University of Hohenheim, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in Tropics and SubtropicsFruwirthstraße 12, Stuttgart, Germany, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, September 2004