Predicting upslope expansion of sub-alpine forest in the Makalu Barun National Park, Eastern Nepal, with a hybrid cartographic model
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The natural upper boundary of a forest (forest line) in mountain environments is an indicator of climate conditions. An increase in global average temperatures has resulted in an upward advance of the forest line. This advance may result in fragmentation of the alpine ecosystem and a loss of biodiversity. Therefore, it is important to identify potential areas where current forests can advance under scenarios of future climate change. I used expert knowledge and cartographic modeling to create a hybrid cartographic model considering five topographic variables to predict areas where forest line can expand in the future. The prediction accuracy of the model is around 82%. The model is able to predict areas above the current forest line that are suitable or unsuitable for future forest advance. Further inclusion of high-resolution satellite imagery and digital elevation models, as well as field-based information into the model can help to improve the model accuracy.