Niels Debonne is an assistant professor in the Environmental Geography department at the Institute for Environmental Studies. His current research is focused on pathways of sustainable intensification of European agriculture. In the coming decades, Europe will be transformed by demographic, technological, climatic and societal megatrends. Niels aims to map and project these trends, and gauge how they enable or disable specific pathways of sustainable intensification. This research is part of the SIPATH project.
Niels has obtained his PhD degree from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in which he took stock of new actors and new scales in agriculture. He used a range of methodologies, including land system modeling, empirical field work, and meta-analysis. He collaborated with the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface to include dynamics of land tenure and value chain developments in the fight against land degradation.
Originally from Belgium, Niels obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degree at the KU Leuven (Belgium). His master’s thesis took him to the Southwestern Ethiopian forest frontier, where he collected data on rural-to-rural migration, indigenous land management, and the implications for the maintenance of forest ecosystem. He developed a spatial agent-based model to with the obtained data.
Telecoupling of land use systems, Land governance, Land change trade-offs for ecosystem services and biodiversity , Land management systems
Most research in land system science focuses on farmers as key actors driving agricultural change. However, farmers are in reality embedded in multi-actor networks and we lack understanding of the nature and diversity of these networks. The authors of a new paper in Global Environmental Change conducted a meta-study to synthesize knowledge on agri-food networks in Europe. The resulting archetypical network configurations reveal the most common actors and interactions, and suggest a need for future research in land system science to better understand the drivers and impacts of agri-food network (re)configurations.
A new article in Journal of Land Use Science provides approaches for facilitating researchers to get an enhanced understanding of multi-scale land change processes, as well as supporting land governance in scaling up the knowledge and solutions generated by LSS research.
A new article in Global Environmental Change maps the megatrends of climate, demography, value system and environmental regulation to gain foresight on the future of European agriculture. This is a product of the SIPATH project, a collaboration between the IVM (Amsterdam), WSL and Agroscope (Zürich).