Tree suitability modeling and mapping in Nepal: a geospatial approach to scaling agroforestry
Trees provide a wide range of benefits and have the potential to meet the majority of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The study used different geospatial datasets of land, soil, climate and topography for modeling and mapping and identifying a potentially suitable area for trees in Nepal. Additionally, tree suitability categories and tree cover presence were examined in the existing agricultural landscape and in various ecological zones of Nepal to understand both dominance and trends. The overall analysis of land potentiality revealed that 18.9%, 12.8% and 68.3% of total land area are considered low (< 30%), medium (30–60%) and high (≥ 60%) suitability for trees, respectively. Nepal is broadly divided into three ecological zones, namely, Tarai (17%), hills (68%) and mountain (15%).
The study prioritized/ranked 862 villages as having more than 80% of land suitable for trees; this could be harnessed for integrated agroforestry practices. The findings addressed one of the important research gaps of land potentiality toward tree suitability. Moreover, it supports one of Nepal’s National Agroforestry Policy goals which is the development, expansion and commercialization of agroforestry systems which would contribute to national prosperity.