Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
325R: Long-term drivers of land use change, with a focus on South-East Asia
Wednesday, 24/Apr/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Martin Rudbeck Jepsen
Session Chair: Thilde Bech Bruun
Location: UniS-A -122
UniS Building, room A -122, basement, 72 seats
Session Topics:
How do we support transformation?

Session Abstract

Southeast Asia is a region of ongoing rapid land transformations. Deforestation, expansion of annual cropping, perennial crop plantations, and aquaculture along the region’s coastline has been identified as some of the proximate causes of transformation. Recent empirical examples include the boom (and burst) of rubber plantations, banana, and the introduction of annual cash cropping rapidly substituting subsistence production. Further, a plethora of primarily small-scale studies point to underlying causes of change, e.g. related to changing demographic, economic, or institutional conditions.

However, consistent analyses of country-scale, long-term (+2 decades) changes and their underlying causes are scarce. In this session, we call for presentations of long-term changes and their drivers at the country scale. The main objective of the session will be to identify the political, economic, and technological causes behind ‘mega trends’ within Southeast Asian countries during the past 30-50 years, with the aim of synthesizing how transitions have swept across the region, which underlying causes have been at play, and which barriers and opportunities each country have faced.

Session Organizers: Martin Jepsen and Thilde Bech Bruun

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Full talk
ID: 348 / 325R: 1
325R Long-term drivers of land use change in South-East Asia
Keywords: Myanmar, Southeast Asia, land use change, livelihoods, drivers

Long-term drivers of land use change in South-East Asia

Martin Rudbeck Jepsen1, Thilde Bruun1, Matilda Palm2

1University of Copenhagen, Denmark; 2Chalmers University of technology, Sweden

Mainland South-east Asia (MSA) has seen sweeping land use changes in the past decades driven by global change processes, especially human-induced deforestation and increasing market integration of local land and natural resources. As land use systems and traditional upland livelihoods form a close-knit nexus, such transitions have implications for local upland communities, simultaneously restricting their scope and influence but also opening new opportunities for land use activities and livelihoods, e.g. income stability through contract farming, increased crop production by agricultural intensification, or cash income through sales of land. At the same time, the transition can be associated with loss of land or tenure rights, increased exposure to market price fluctuations and indebtedness due to higher costs of agriculture inputs. However, lack of reliable data and scarce research documentation of land use and transition pathways thwart a full understanding of transitions and their impacts on society and environment.

Due to its particular political regime, Myanmar is at the tail of this development. However, with Myanmar’s official strategy of agricultural commercialization and intensification recent liberalization of the national economy, and influx of multinational agricultural companies, the effects on land transitions are likely to come fast.

This presentation will analyze the current state of upland land use in a socio-economic and political context. We identify extensive land use changes and state driven economic, land right and policy reforms that have occurred in upland areas of mainland Southeast Asian countries in past decades and draw on these experiences to contextualize our study and hypothesize about possible transition pathways for Myanmar.

Full talk
ID: 895 / 325R: 2
325R Long-term drivers of land use change in South-East Asia
Keywords: Land deals; investment quality; impacts; Laos; national inventory

Targeting land deals in the Lao PDR: A nation-wide characterization of investments in land and their impacts

Cornelia Hett1, Vong Nanhthavong1, Michael Epprecht1, Savanh Hanephom2, Anongsone Phommachanh3

1University of Bern, Switzerland, Centre for Development and Environment; 2Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR; 3Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Lao PDR

Market forces and national policies have been driving investments in land for more than a decade in Laos. Two extensive inventories were conducted between 2016 and 2017 to gain insights on the characteristics of land concessions and leases, and understand their impacts. Firstly, a nation-wide inventory on agricultural, tree-plantation and mining deals rendering basic data (e.g. invested product, type of investor, and area granted and used). Secondly, an assessment on quality of investment (QI) with focus on compliance and environmental, social, and economic impacts. Based on interviews with key stakeholders, it was carried out in ten provinces and included all land deals greater than 10 ha. The results show a continued rise in number of deals over the last decade totalling at 1,399 inventoried deals. Meanwhile the total area granted ceiled at 1,008,884 ha. The majority of deals (66%) are in the start-up or operational stage and have developed 65% of the area granted. 31% of the deals have ceased their operations leaving nearly 132,000 ha of land allocated to land deals unused. Chinese, Vietnamese and domestic investments dominate covering 30%, 28% and 14% respectively of the total area granted and mainly include rubber, gold and eucalyptus. Rates of legal compliance for land deals were found to be very low, particularly with regard to environmental and social measures. Land deals contribute to the agrarian transition in Laos primarily in accessible areas. Nearly 40,000 jobs were created by land deals of the QI assessment. However, the majority of jobs being low paid and short-term. The development of land deals has restricted access to natural resources for the local residents with reported negative impacts on the ability to collect and produce food. Reported mismanagement of agrichemicals indicates adverse impacts for the environment and health hazards for the affected local residents.

Full talk
ID: 767 / 325R: 3
325R Long-term drivers of land use change in South-East Asia
Keywords: Long-term land-use change, regime shift, land-use intensification, forest degradation, Southeast Asia

Underlying causes of the land-use transformation in post-war Vietnam

Daniel Müller1,2

1Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Germany; 2Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

Long-term trajectories of land use often evolve in characteristic cycles, depending on a country’s development stage, economic growth patterns, and its per capita resource stock. In early stages of development, subsistence-oriented farming systems prevail. As incomes rise, land use swings towards higher land and labor productivity, commercialized production, and the cultivation of more profitable crops. Vietnam has gone through these development stages at rapid pace. Agricultural production after the reunification in 1975 stagnated in the largely collectivized farming system and could not keep pace with population growth, resulting in widespread food shortages during the 1980s. In response, the socialist government initiated the economic renovation policy in 1986 and started allocating land-use rights to farmers in 1993. The agricultural sector, and with it living standards in rural areas, developed rapidly after the change in political course and helped to turn Vietnam from a net importer to one of the largest exporters of agricultural commodities, regularly ranging in the top three for rice, coffee, cashews, and rubber. Moreover, Vietnam is among the leading exporters of wood furniture and the fourth largest aquaculture producer in the world. While some of these land-system changes have been enabled by government policies, others were the response of land users to beneficial world market prices and improved trade arrangements. In this talk I will synthesize the land-use transformations that Vietnam experienced since 1975, highlight their major underlying causes for the observed agricultural development, and discuss the substantial environmental costs associated with agricultural development.

Full talk
ID: 483 / 325R: 4
325R Long-term drivers of land use change in South-East Asia
Keywords: Java, deforestation; protected areas; Landsat, land use/land-cover change

Deforestation dynamics in an endemic-rich mountain system: conservation successes and challenges in West Java 1990-2015

Thomas Higginbottom1, Nigel Collar2, Elias Symeonakis1, Stuart Marsden1

1Manchester Metropolitan University; 2Birdlife International

While much has been published on recent rates of forest loss in the Sundaic lowlands, deforestation rates and patterns on Java’s endemic-rich mountains have been rather neglected. We used nearly 1,000 Landsat images to examine spatio-altitudinal and temporal patterns of forest loss in montane West Java over the last 28 years, and the effectiveness of protected areas in halting deforestation over that period. Around 40% of forest has been lost since 1988, the bulk occurring pre-2000 (2.5% per annum), falling to 1% per annum post-2007. Most deforestation has occurred at lower altitudes (< 1,000 m), both as attrition of the edges of forested mountain blocks as well as the near-total clearance of lower-altitude forested areas. Deforestation within protected areas was rife pre-2000 but greatly decreased thereafter, almost ceasing post-2007 in protected areas of high International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status. While apparent recent protection against land clearance is welcome, it must be stressed that the area of remaining forest is only 5,234 km2, that most accessible lower-altitude forest has already disappeared, and that the extant montane forest is largely fragmented and isolated. The biological value of these forests is huge and without strong intervention, we anticipate imminent loss of populations of taxa such as the Javan Slow Loris Nycticebus javanicus and Javan Green Magpie Cissa thalassina.

Flash talk
ID: 308 / 325R: 5
325R Long-term drivers of land use change in South-East Asia
Keywords: Indonesia, fire, long-term drivers

Patterns and drivers of forest and biomass fires in Indonesia

Zu Dienle Tan, Roman L. Carrasco, David Mark Taylor

National University of Singapore, Singapore

Transboundary haze pollution is a recurring phenomenon that afflicts Southeast Asia, with origins in forest and other forms of biomass fires throughout the region, but particularly peatland burning in Indonesia. Peatland burning contributes disproportionately to haze generation and releases high levels of fine particulate matter and stored carbon into the atmosphere. The emitted fine particulate matter is a concern for human health. More recently the increasing frequency and intensity of haze linked to peatland fires suggest that the phenomenon may be less influenced by climatic abnormalities. Instead, it is also greatly influenced by shifting practices involving burning to clear peatland vegetation for the development and expansion of plantation agriculture and forestry. The extent to which the drivers of fires are part of a larger and longer-termed trend in land use practices within the region, and what the implications of this trend might be for designing robust interventions targeting the problem of haze, remain open questions.

Research described in this presentation addresses the spatiotemporal gap of current Indonesian fire studies. The research focuses on the three outer Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua and on the period 2000 to 2015. These islands have extensive peatlands and are targeted - both historically and in recent years - for national development. Whereas Kalimantan and Sumatra have experienced widespread conversion towards oil palm and timber production, Papua represents a ‘frontier’ undergoing development. We therefore expect any changes in fire occurrence to be closely related to land covers previously degraded by human use, especially in peatlands that have been drained for cultivation. Regression-based models are used to identify the drivers of fires across Indonesia in the last decade, and in doing so provide a basis for a wider discussion on the trajectories of land use land cover changes and their impacts in Southeast Asia.

Full talk
ID: 766 / 325R: 6
206R Relevance of long-term land-use change for sustainable land management
Keywords: Soil organic matter, RothC, Climate change, Ecological modeling

An integrated assessment of the roles of climate change and land use change on soil organic carbon loss

Tiago G. Morais1, Ricardo F.M. Teixeira1, Karlheinz Erb2, Tiago Domigos1

1MARETEC, Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal; 2Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Vienna

Human activities are the most significant driver of soil degradation due to land transformation and occupation. Process-based soil models simulate soil dynamics due to land use and land use change (LU/LUC) as a function of agricultural practices and climate variables. Here we use the process-based model RothC to assess soil organic carbon (SOC) change due to LU/LUC under several climate change scenarios.
We defined more than 17,000 unique homogeneous territorial units (UHTU) globally, where each is the combination of climate region, LU, soil type, soil texture and country. We used RothC in each UHTU to: (1) simulate hypothetical SOC saturation curves in each UHTU until 2100 for all possible LU transitions between 80 classes (starting from present LU class) considering climate stability, and (2) simulate SOC dynamics between the same classes until 2100 including projections of future temperature and precipitation and potential crop yields. As applications, we used results from (1) and (2) to (3) estimate how much crop yields must increase in order to provide sufficient C inputs to soil to compensate for increased SOC depletion due to the climate change.
SOC dynamics varies significantly with crop type, as saturation SOC is mostly sensitive to C inputs from crop residues. Initial SOC before the transformation is also relevant. Transformation of semi-natural and pristine ecosystems to crop production translate into high SOC losses, but croplands can have higher stabilization SOC than forests and grasslands in some UHTUs. To compensate the climate change impacts, crop yields need to increase in the future close to potential levels. Globally, in the most likely scenario, by 2100 there will be a retraction of agricultural areas due to re-conversion to semi-natural areas, with potential global SOC gains.

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