EVENT RECAP: Young Speaker Series - March 2021

Related GLP Member: Niels Debonne, Samuel Tumwesigye, Dominik Kaim, Anton Van Rompaey

The GLP Integration of Rural and Urban Land Systems Working Group held its first Young Speakers Series webinar in March 2021.

The series is held monthly and is a platform particularly for young researchers to present their work and to connect to each other as well as to more senior researchers.

In this first event of the Young Speakers Series, Dr. Niels Debonne introduced his work about agency shifts in agricultural land governance. We also heard about PhD student Samuel Tumwesigye’s research on understanding rural out-migration in Uganda and Dr. Dominik Kaim’s research on wildlife-urban interfaces and conflicts.

Watch the webinar recording

Dr. Niels Debonne, Agency shifts in agricultural land governance (2 MB, PDF)

Who decides about our farmland? This question is highly relevant in times when a range of global environmental solutions hinge on massive land management interventions. land system scientists, but also major international institutions such as the United Nations, typically cast either farmers or governmental actors as the main decision makers. My research demonstrates that we may be underestimating the role of value chain actors, ranging from urban-based businesspeople, supermarkets, agro-processors, to international financiers. In my research I use modelling tools to simulate land system scenarios with different policies towards large-scale land acquisitions. To make sense of the reported trend of increases in medium-scale farms in Africa, owned by urban-based managers, I went to Kenya to survey such farms. Lastly, I question what the implications of the agency shift towards value chain actors means for environmental policy making, and apply my findings to the UNCCD Land Degradation Neutrality target.

This talk is based on the following research:

  • Debonne, N., van Vliet, J., Heinimann, A., Verburg, P.H., 2018. Representing large-scale land acquisitions in land use change scenarios for the Lao PDR. Reg. Environ. Chang. 18, 1857–1869.
  • Debonne, N., van Vliet, J., Ramkat, R., Snelder, D., Verburg, P.H., 2021a. Farm scale as a driver of agricultural development in the Kenyan Rift Valley. Agric. Syst. 186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2020.102943
  • Debonne, N., van Vliet, J., Verburg, P.H., 2019. Future governance options for large-scale land acquisition in Cambodia: Impacts on tree cover and tiger landscapes. Environ. Sci. Policy 94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2018.12.031
  • Debonne, N., Vliet, J. Van, Metternicht, G., Verburg, P.H., 2021b. Agency shifts in agricultural land governance and their implications for land degradation neutrality. Glob. Environ. Chang. 66, 102221. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102221

Samuel Tumwesigye, Who and why?: rural out-migration in Uganda (<1 MB, PDF)

Rural-urban migration in developing countries is considered to be a key process for sustainable development in the coming decades. On the one hand, rural-urban migration can contribute to the socio-economic development of a country. On the other hand, it also leads to labor transfer, brain-drain in rural areas and overcrowded cities where planning is lagging behind. To get a better insight into the mechanisms of rural-urban migration in developing countries, we conducted household surveys, characterized who migrates and analysed motivations for rural-urban migration from the perspective of rural households in Uganda. The likelihood for rural out-migration was assessed using household and community levels socio-economic characteristics as predictors. From this we constructed household typologies. Our research show that most out-migrants are from relatively wealthy households with a higher than average education level. Typically, these households are located in rural areas that are well-connected with urban centers. Poor households in remote locations send significantly less migrants because of limited access to migration information and poor transport networks. Based on household typologies, natural growth rates and conditional probabilities we undertake Agent Based Modelling (ABM) and simulate rural out-migration flows in the next 20 years. From these simulations and the spatial distribution of the out-migrants, we analyze the potential impact of rural out-migration on land use at origin (rural areas) and destination (urban centers).

Dr. Dominik Kaim, Wildland-Urban Interface in the Polish Carpathians and its impact on Human-Wildlife Conflict (2 MB, PDF)

The Polish Carpathians undergo dynamic land use changes. On the one hand, we observe settlement development, while on the other hand, the process of land abandonment leading to secondary forest succession and forest expansion are widespread, as in other European mountain areas. These two processes lead to the spread of the contact zone located between the human-dominated landscape and mostly forested natural areas, referred to as the Wildland-Urban Interface – WUI. Recently, researchers indicated that WUI areas are prone to human-wildlife conflict. Since the Carpathians are the region where recovery of large carnivores can be observed, the question is, how current land use changes impact human-wildlife conflict? To answer it, a WUI dynamics over time will be analysed and verified with the locations of the conflicts between carnivores and humans, recorded in the last decade.

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