Call for submissions: Land acquisitions, wellbeing, and environment

Related GLP Member: Ariane de Bremond, Dan Brown

In the past decade, an explosion of research on land grabbing and land transactions has reinvigorated scholarly interest in land tenure, land use, human and ecosystem wellbeing, and their relationships. Analyses of these relationships recall long-standing scholarly debates on agricultural transformations. In so doing, they are also inevitably concerned with questions about institutional and technological changes, spillovers in agricultural systems, power and economic development, gender and labor relationships, and productivity growth and inequalities. And in addressing these questions, they contribute to on-going debates in land system science around land sparing, tele-coupled and rural-urban interactions, and food, energy, and water security. As large socioeconomic and remote sensing-based datasets have become more widely available, novel analytical techniques and a strong focus on causal inference have allowed studies of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) to generate new insights into the mechanisms of agricultural transitions. This special feature invites new research analyses on contemporary processes of agricultural change, land-system change, and structural transformation. Papers in the volume will be marked by a deep engagement with existing and historical scholarly debates on the evolving but integral role of land in development and will seek to mobilize novel public and customized datasets and emphasize analytical techniques that permit systematic causal, predictive, and systems-level analyses. More specifically, the contributions focus on, encompass, and build on four streams of research: 

  • Analyses of large datasets that use remote sensing, social surveys, and administrative data to estimate and categorize changes in land, land use, land cover, and agriculture, distinguishing and comparing these changes in locations with and without land tenure changes where feasible; 

  • Studies of the causal processes and patterns to carefully connect land tenure, land use, and direct and indirect land cover changes with human and/or ecosystem wellbeing in an explanatory or predictive framework; 

  • Studies of the feedbacks and interactions that create complexity in the causal pathways between larger economic and institutional changes and land-use and livelihood changes at the local level; and

  • Cross-scale investigations that link well-being changes (social and/or ecosystem) attributable to land and ecosystem changes with encompassing processes of climate change, social and political marginalization, deforestation and forest transitions, nation building, and structural transformation.