Soybean field in northern Mozambique
Soybean field in northern Mozambique

MIDLAND - Developing middle-range theories linking land use displacement, intensification and transitions

Project time period:
May, 2016 to April, 2021

The Project is funded as a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant under Grant Agreement N°677140:

Land is a nexus for crucial societal and environmental challenges including food security, access to water, land degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Development of solutions to balance these tradeoffs and synergies is currently hindered by the lack of theories explaining the conditions under which different pathways of land change occur and lead to different outcomes, integrating human and environmental aspects.

This project develops and tests integrated middle-range theories explaining the linkages between three of the major processes in land systems, i.e., (i) land use intensification and expansion, (ii) land use displacement and trade, and (iii) land use transitions or regime shifts.

The work focuses on the emerging agricultural frontier of Southern African dry forests and savannas, which is a threatened and understudied region, and its linkages with distant places.

We analyze: (i) The strategic field of actors’ coalitions, institutions and distant linkages in emerging frontiers; (ii) Links between land use displacement, leakage, and local land changes; (iii) Pathways of agricultural expansion and intensification in tropical landscapes; and (iv) The conditions for transformative governance of land systems to foster resilient landscapes that sustain ecosystem services and livelihoods.

More info:


GLP Themes: Telecoupling of land use systems, Land governance, Land change trade-offs for ecosystem services and biodiversity , Land management systems, Urban-rural interactions, Land use and conflict

GLP Methods: Decision Making, Econometrics, GIS, Institutional Analysis, Interdisciplinary methods, Past land use/historical land use reconstruction, Qualitative social science methods (interviews, observations, document review, surveys), Remote Sensing, Social network analysis, Spatial Analysis, Supply and value chains, Synthesis/meta-analysis/meta-study

Principal Investigator(s)