Urban Green Space Is a Critical Nature-Based Infrastructure for the Climate Resilience of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Urban areas in Nepal will continue to be hotter and wetter partly due to climate change and urban growth. This is particularly alarming as the urban population has reached 60 % of the total population in the country (ISET-Nepal, 2021). Kathmandu Metropolitan city– inside its namesake Kathmandu valley– is growing at a rate of 6.5% per year and is one of the fastest-urbanizing cities in South Asia (Timsina et al., 2020). By the end of the 21st century, annual mean precipitation, monsoon precipitation, and extreme precipitation will increase by 17.7%, 72.3%, and 26.7% respectively in Kathmandu Valley (Dotel et al., 2021). The increased intensity of monsoon and extreme precipitation will likely expand flooding risks in urban areas. Similarly, the increase in maximum pre-monsoon (March – May) and post-monsoon (June – September) temperatures by 0.45 C and 0.66 C by 2050 will create hotter summer days (Lamichhane & Shakya, 2019). Urban green infrastructure such as urban forests, riparian areas, green roofs, urban and peri-urban agriculture spaces can provide multiple benefits, including recreation, air quality, groundwater recharge, temperature reduction, food security, and open space for natural disaster responses, especially for a low and middle-income city like Kathmandu which is highly vulnerable to natural disasters due to weak disaster preparedness and management practices (ISET-Nepal, 2022; Reynolds, 2005).
Using the case of urban areas of Kathmandu, Nepal, this study aims to 1) discuss the contribution of green space in cooling ambient temperature, supporting groundwater recharge, and providing other co-benefits, and 2) provide strategies and recommendations for promoting urban green space in the Kathmandu valley. The study is based on a qualitative interview with key stakeholders from government and non-government institutions, analysis of secondary datasets from remote sensing and other sources, and reviews of existing grey and peer-reviewed literature. Our preliminary analysis reveals that strategic promotion of urban green space could potentially provide multiple co-benefits, including reduced flood risk, increased groundwater recharge, expanded recreational opportunities, and cooler ambient temperature. Some of the strategic sites include riparian corridors along major rivers and urban areas around core and periphery of the valley. Cultural aspects should be highlighted in this infrastructure. Strategic placement of urban green space can be a viable solution for building climate resilience in urban areas while increasing the urban quality of life.
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