Focus on Leakage: Informing Land-Use Governance in a Tele-Coupled World

Related GLP Member: Jan Börner, Toby Gardner, Rachael Garrett, Javier Godar, Patrick Meyfroidt

The drivers of land use change can have both direct and indirect effects. One type of indirect effect is the displacement of land-uses to near or remote sites - often described as either a spillover effect or leakage. Leakage and spillover effects are inherently more difficult to detect and quantify than direct cause-effect relationships in tele-coupled land use systems and can lead to both positive and negative social and environmental impacts. Amid thriving global demand for food and non-food biomass, new and innovative commodity supply chain interventions and hybrid governance arrangements are being devised by private, public and civil society actors. Simultaneously, new tools and data sources are becoming available to monitor land use change and trace global commodity trade flows along increasingly complex value chains.

This ERL issue explores new ways to put such tools and data to work towards improving our understanding of direct and indirect land-use change caused by governance interventions. It integrates across three related streams of scholarly work on direct and indirect land use change:

  • Conceptual and theoretical research on the causal mechanisms and contextual determinants of land use leakage and spillover effects
  • Empirical research that identifies and quantifies land use leakage and spillover dynamics
  • Use of trade and land use simulation models to assess potential impacts of land use leakage and spillover processes