Does outmigration lead to land degradation? Labour shortage and land management in a western Nepal watershed

Jaquet, Stéphanie; Schwilch, Gudrun; Hartung-Hofmann, Fritz; Adhikari, Anu; Sudmeier-Rieux, Karen; Shrestha, Gittat; Liniger, Hanspeter; Kohler, Thomas (2015). Does outmigration lead to land degradation? Labour shortage and land management in a western Nepal watershed. Applied geography, 62, pp. 157-170. Elsevier 10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.04.013

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In Nepal, changing demographic patterns are leading to changes in land use. The high level of outmigration of men in the hills of Kaski District, Western Development Region of Nepal, is affecting the household structure but also land management. Land is often abandoned, as the burden on those left behind is too high. How do these developments affect the state of the land in terms of land degradation? To find out, we studied land degradation, land abandonment caused by outmigration, and existing sustainable land management practices in a subwatershed in Kaski District. Mapping was done using the methodology of the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT). While previous studies expected land abandonment to exacerbate slope erosion, we demonstrate in this paper that it is in fact leading to an increase in vegetation cover due to favourable conditions for ecosystem recovery. However, negative impacts are several, including the increase of invasive species harmful to livestock and a decline in soil fertility. Traditional land management practices such as terraces and forest management exist. To date, however, these measures fail to take account of the changing population dynamics in the region, making the question of how migration and land degradation are linked worth revisiting.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

Graduate School:

International Graduate School North-South (IGS North-South)

UniBE Contributor:

Jaquet, Stéphanie; Schwilch, Gudrun; Liniger, Hanspeter and Kohler, Thomas








Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

21 May 2015 10:43

Last Modified:

24 Mar 2017 15:39

Publisher DOI:





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