The Global Land Rush: A Socio-Environmental Synthesis

Large industrial soybean fields in midst of Cerradao forest

This newly NASA-funded interdisciplinary project, titled “The Global Land Rush: A Socio-Environmental Synthesis”, will conduct an integrated global synthesis of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs), a growing phenomenon in the global South as governments and transnational investors seek to secure access to land in developing countries to produce food, bio-fuels, and non-agricultural commodities. Consequences of LSLAs vary widely across the globe, ranging from land improvement and creation of new livelihood opportunities to land degradation and dispossession of land from local inhabitants. Distant connections between land systems are not new, but rising evidence indicates that such cross-scaled telecoupled socio-economic and environmental interactions as a result of LSLAs have grown stronger, with more rapid feedbacks.

My roles in the project are to oversee the 1) acquisition, management, and analysis of LSLA locations and associated socio-economic, political, and biophysical data; 2) integration of spatio-temporal statistical analyses with remote sensing time series; and 3) synthesis of a large number of local case studies to infer common causes and consequences of LSLAs globally.

My collaborators on this project are Dr. Ariane de Bremond (PI) and Dr. Evan Ellicott (co-I) in the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park.


Landscapes in Transformation in Central America (LITCA)

As part of a SESYNC Pursuit, led by Kendra McSweeney and Eric Nielson, this interdisciplinary project aims to understand the connection between U.S. drug and interdiction policy and rapid and large-scale deforestation in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Specifically, the project has the following objectives:

  1. Quantify landscape vulnerability to, and magnitude of land-use changes that can be attributed to narco-trafficking and associated counter-narcotics activities;
  2. Develop different methodological approaches to model this dynamic,
  3. Describe the mechanisms by which these land use changes operate in rural communities in distinct spatial and temporal contexts
  4. Describe how these land use changes impact rural communities
  5. Predict how changing interdiction policy may affect these landscapes.

My role in the project is to develop an agent-based model, called NarcoLogic, to understand the decision-making processes of actors within international drug trafficking networks and how and where those decisions result in land-use change. I am also assisting with the spatial statistical modeling to identify the major drivers of ‘anomalous’ deforestation patches suspected of being associated with narco-trafficking. See the publication in Environmental Research Letters for more information.

Here’s a clip of NarcoLogic’s trafficking network in action.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s