Socio-Ecological Land Systems of Latin America

Short Description

Socio-Ecological Land Systems (SELS) include different processes and contexts that enable integrating the socio-ecological aspects of territories with regional land-uses. There are many disciplines that study them, from the social or economic sciences, the environmental or the land use sciences. A thorough and holistic understanding and definition of large scale SELS is a challenging synthesis endeavor that must be  addressed collectively by an array of specialists. This group is building an interdisciplinary team of researchers to integrate their expertise and territorial knowledge into understanding the intertwined relations between land-use patterns and their associated socio-ecological systems (and vice versa) of Latin America.

Goals and Objectives

The overall goal of this WG is to generate a channel for discussion and collaboration on the understanding and defining of SELS for Latin America by contrasting and synthesizing experts’ territorial knowledge with available socio-ecological data. Our overarching aim is to contribute to the Land System Science community by generating a reference framework for analyzing patterns and processes in land science, management and planning under the umbrella of SELS in Latin America. Above all, we hope this Working Group can be a catalyst for generating new avenues and empowering the GLP community to work closely together, while expanding multidisciplinary work in the context of Socio-Ecological Land Systems.

This group’s research interests include:

  • systematically analyze, map and characterize the SELS of SA (ongoing), 
  • expand the effort to include Central America and Caribbean,
  • explore the dynamism of the SELS systems at large and at more detailed (i.e., sub national) levels,
  • delve into the nature of the characteristics that differentiates the land systems,
  • propose ways to bridge lack of data in certain areas (especially social and cultural dimensions),
  • investigate land-use induced biotic homogenization and their reactions on face of climate change, among others. 

Specifically, the group proposes the following concrete work outputs:

Short term:

  • Define the agenda of coming years after our collaboration work on spatial SELS for SA: compilation of potential venues for continuing collaborative research and emerging research questions (paper, book, opinion piece)
  • Organize a symposium or immersive session in up-coming OSM GLP 2021 in the Americas and during the Argentine Ecology meeting (end of 2020)

Long term:

  • Promote the use of the spatial SELS and conceptual model as a framework for organizing research and teaching agendas related to Land Science; for example, linking with IAI activities and GLP Latin American Nodal Office.
  • Develop science towards communicating results to stakeholders outside of the scientific journal universe and promote co-production research.

Advisory Board Members

Dr. Eugenio Arima, University of Texas at Austin, United States
Dr. Sébastien Boillat, University of Bern, Switzerland
Dr. Martha Bonilla, INECOL, Mexico
Dr. Ignacio Gasparri, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán - CONICET, Argentina 
Dr. Ricardo Grau, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán - CONICET, Argentina
Dr. Esteban Jobbagy, CONICET & Universidad Nacional de San Luis, Argentina
Dr. Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel, University of Bern, Switzerland

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


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The organizers and several participants of a recent Working Group Meet & Greet put together this blog post summarizing the discussions held during the event. Although it will take time to make sense of the myriad changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought and continues to bring into their lives as scientists, and into the socio-ecological land systems that they study, they identified several likely patterns of long-term change.   Read full post

Related Information


June 9, 2021

A new paper in Current Research in Environmental Sustainability looks at the destruction of the Amazon through a large-scale collective action lens and identifies six variables that show lack of accountability, distrust among actors, and little sense of responsibility for halting deforestation remain key stressors. 

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June 9, 2021

A new paper in Sustainability Science looks at how transnational socio-ecological land systems highlight the influence of institutions under different governance regimes in defining the spatial configuration and ecological properties of regions. Land systems' asymmetries are mediated by the primary production of the ecosystems, agriculture aptitude and by contrasting perceptions and valuation of the same ecoregion across national borders. In addition, the land-use history, legacies and cultural heritage can promote land systems’ asymmetries depending on complex interactions and feedbacks of socio-ecological systems.

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June 8, 2021

The webinar recording and presentations for the GLP Social-Ecological Land Systems of Latin America (LASELS) Working Group's third webinar are now available.

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Working Group Coordinators


Working Group Members