Ambika Khadka, MEM

2012 TRI Fellow in Nepal and China

Studying the impact of different land use changes in the hydrological cycle of a watershed, Jiangxi Province, China


The world is entering a new era in which rapid land use and social changes are altering watershed ecosystems. Many hydrological studies have shown that land use changes have affected the hydrology of various watersheds of the world. Land use changes such as conversion of forests to agricultural land and urbanization of these lands is a common scene in China. I was in Nanchang city of China this summer. I noticed that urbanization has plagued not only big cities like Beijing and Shanghai but also small cities like Nanchang. I recall my field assistant briefing me how the provincial government is focusing on economic development by transforming villages and farmlands to cities in no time. She recalls that her hometown, which used to be full of villages and farmland 10 years ago, has been transformed to city and bustling urban site now.

How the government’s efforts to enhance economic development by transforming forests and agricultural land to urban areas affect the river’s ecosystem, flora and fauna, and community dependent on the river? What are the impacts of land use changes in the river as well as entire lake watershed?

My research proposal is to use scientific analysis to understand whether the land use changes will affect the water availability of Xinjiang River and Poyang Lake watershed. We propose using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) (Gassman, 2007), which models the rainfall-runoff interrelationship and water balance (flow of water in and out of the lake), as a tool for decision-making for Xinjiang River watershed management.

Keywords: watershed, land use, hydrology, Soil and Water Assessment Tool