My research and teaching responsibilities are focused on global environmental change, land use transitions and food security in the Global South. Specifically, I have worked for two decades on the dynamics of forest-agriculture frontiers looking at how changes in land use affect socio-economic and environmental systems. I also work with climate change adaptation and mitigation and have a general interest in the interface between development, environmental management and land use change. My regional specialization is Southeast Asia and West Africa, but I have also worked in the Pacific, East and Central Africa and Latin America.
Telecoupling of land use systems, Land governance, Land change trade-offs for ecosystem services and biodiversity , Land management systems
A new article in Geoscientific Model Development, with several GLP Members as co-authors, presents results from the Land-Use Harmonization 2 (LUH2) project, which smoothly connects updated historical reconstructions of land use with eight new future projections in the format required for Earth system models (ESMs).
Laura Vang Rasmussen, Ole Mertz and colleagues have published an article in Nature showing a relatively high density of isolated trees in the region, which challenges prevailing narratives about dryland desertification. Even the desert shows a surprisingly high tree density. Their assessment suggests a way to monitor trees outside of forests globally, and to explore their role in mitigating degradation, climate change and poverty.
Land-use intensification in agrarian landscapes is seen as a key strategy to simultaneously feed humanity and use ecosystems sustainably, but the conditions that support positive social-ecological outcomes remain poorly documented. A new article by several GLP Fellows and Members addresses this knowledge gap by synthesizing research that analyses how agricultural intensification affects both ecosystem services and human well-being in low- and middle-income countries.
Martin Brandt, along with SSC Fellow Ole Mertz and GLP Member Stephanie Herrmann, published an article in Nature Geoscience this month on macroscale assessments of the impact of management and climate on woody cover for drylands. They concluded that agricultural expansion causes a considerable reduction of trees in woodlands, but observations in Sahel indicate that villagers safeguard trees on nearby farmlands which contradicts simplistic ideas of a high negative correlation between population density and woody cover.