Conference Agenda

111RB: Clandestine and illicit economies as drivers of land system dynamics - Part B
Thursday, 25/Apr/2019:
10:45am - 12:15pm

Session Chair: Nicholas Magliocca
Session Chair: Elizabeth Tellman
Location: MB-120
Main Building, room 120, first floor, west wing, 80 (+14) seats
Session Topics:
What are the visions for the planetary land system?

Session Abstract

The importance of clandestine and illicit economies as drivers of land system dynamics is becoming more widely recognized. Yet, causally linking these activities and their associated capital flows to land system state and transformation remain difficult, and challenges attempts to conceptualize, detect, and study clandestine and illicit economies as land system components comparable to legal economic activities. This research presentation session will delve into how clandestine and illicit transactions – i.e., economic/capital exchanges involving land that are intentionally hidden or non-public because they break formal laws – influence land system dynamics. From off-shore banking (revealed in the Panama Papers) to the international drug trade, large flows of clandestine financial capital around the world move through and embed in social and ecological domains of land systems. Clandestine capital may precipitate land-use transitions between forests and cattle ranches or mining operations, or from agriculture to urban uses. As agents possessing capital engage in political or economic rent-seeking and pursue private property arrangements, the new land markets and transactions that emerge may disrupt collective land tenure or governance structures. Of particular concern are the consequences to ecosystems and people further marginalized through these transactions that may either buttress or thwart sustainable development in the short and long term. While illegal logging and land grabbing have been prominent issues on the Land System Science agenda, more attention is needed to understand these and other types of clandestine activity on agricultural frontiers, in conflict and paramilitary zones, drug production and transit sites, and in informal urban settlements. This session will seek submissions that explore 1) how clandestine and illicit economies support or threaten land systems (OSM Theme 1), and/or 2) how Land System Science (LSS) perspectives and approaches can be used to gain insights into how clandestine and illicit economies operate (OSM Theme 3).

Full talk
ID: 817 / 111RB: 1
111R Clandestine and illicit economies as drivers of land system dynamics
Keywords: Amazon, Andes

Identifying links to illicit economies requires looking beyond the usual suspects

Liliana M Davalos1, Dolors Armenteras2, Jennifer Holmes3

1Stony Brook University, United States of America; 2Universidad Nacional, Colombia; 3University of Texas, Dallas

For decades, reseearch on deforestation in the Amazon Andes has highlighted the role of coca cultivation in land use change. The evidence for a high rate of change from coca in the Andean countries, however, remains scant, and systematic analyses have identified roads and armed conflict as stronger predictors of conversion rates. Here we analyze municipal and regional data from Colombia to disentangle coca crops from local illicit economies as covariates of deforestation. Although we find support for coca cultivation fueling deforestation locally, the proxies for illicit and licit economies are more strongly associated with land use change. At the same time, there are region-specific signs of accelerated land use change linked to coca eradication. Taken together, these results upend the conventional view of coca cultivation as a key contributor to land use change, and highlight the importance of considering booming licit and illicit economies as drivers of deforestation in the Amazon Andes.

Full talk
ID: 633 / 111RB: 2
111R Clandestine and illicit economies as drivers of land system dynamics
Keywords: sand mafia; illicit sand mining; environmental crimes; international organized crime

The structure, operation, and harmful consequences of illicit sand mining in India

Aunshul Rege

Temple University, United States of America

India’s Sand Mafia, which illegally mines sand for construction, generates approximately USD 17 million per month in revenues. The Sand Mafia is currently considered to be one of the most prominent, violent, and impenetrable organized crime groups in India. Yet, there is a dearth of research on this group. This paper explores the Sand Mafia via a document analysis of media and environmental articles published between 2010 and 2017. This group operates as numerous, fragmented structures with transient memberships, and uses violence, political affiliation, and regenerative properties to ensure continued operation. Other factors, such as inadequate manpower, poor enforcement, rapid economic development, and limited acceptance of alternatives to sand, collectively compound the problem of illicit sand mining. Finally, this paper will offer a preliminary discussion of the devastating environmental, physical, and economical harms caused by this organized crime group.

Full talk
ID: 358 / 111RB: 3
111R Clandestine and illicit economies as drivers of land system dynamics
Keywords: Land Market Participation, Land Access, Crop Commercialization, Outright Purchase, Rent

Can Nigeria achieve development through informal land market?

Olubunmi Olanike Alawode1, Oluwatosin Adejoke Adewusi1, Adebayo Ogunniyi2

1University of Ibadan, Nigeria; 2International Food Policy Research Institute, Abuja, Nigeria.

Land is an essential element in agricultural development and its accessibility is crucial to the attainment of a sustainable national development. This paper assessed the effect of agricultural land access on the level of commercialization in Nigeria. The data were General Household Survey (Living Standard Measurement Survey) panel data for the post-planting and postharvest periods of 2015 and 2016 cropping seasons. Descriptive statistics, Crop commercialization index(CCI) and Tobit model were used to analyse data. Farmers acquired land through non-market based methods, in which family inheritance remains the dominant means of land acquisition in Nigeria. Also, farmers (12.8%) acquired land through market based methods (outright purchase and rent) and participated in informal land market. Majority (85.2%) of farmers in Nigeria have low land holding, operate on small scale with average of 1.1hectare, and are semi-subsistence (62.5%). Crop commercialization is also low as almost one-quarter of the farmers sold less than a quarter of their crop produce. This is the case in all the geopolitical zones except South West, where more than half of farmers’ produce (63.71%) were sold; the zone driving commercialization in Nigeria is the South West. Improved access to land through rent increases the level of commercialization of crops by farmers. The effects of all the six geopolitical zones on the level of commercialization in Nigeria are significantly negative, and this is explained by the high level of conflicts between cattle herdsmen and crop farmers, leading to displacement of the farming population, disruption of farming activities, and even loss of farmers’ lives. Policy efforts aimed at improving the functioning of land markets and re-settlement of displaced farming population would help in securing higher levels of marketable surplus of the semi-subsistence, and hence commercialization, to support the economy diversification bid of the government to achieve national development.

Full talk
ID: 277 / 111RB: 4
111R Clandestine and illicit economies as drivers of land system dynamics
Keywords: illegal logging, community-based monitoring, deforestation, degradation, FLEGT VPA

Involving forest-fringe communities in controlling illegal logging: Insights from focus group research in five forest districts, Ghana

Lawrence Damnyag1, Benjamin, K. Bani2

1CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana/CCST College of Science and Technology, Ghana; 2Department of Silviculture and Forest Management, KNUST, University Post, Kumasi, Ghana

Globally, illegal chainsaw operation and the sale of timber are viewed as the main cause of forest degradation. It also poses a threat to biodiversity whilst endangering the ability of forest fringe communities who are dependent on the forest for their livelihoods to have their needs met. In Ghana, illegal chainsaw operation and logging activity continue to be a challenge in forest management as they continue to fuel the rate of deforestation and forest degradation. This paper investigates the experiences, challenges, and strategies available for the official forest managers and forest-communities in the fight against the illegal logging menace. Qualitative research design was employed. Focus group discussion technique was used to collect the data among local communities and forest managers in five districts. The results show that there is no effective collaboration among the resource managers, the forest fringe-communities, the logging companies and local authorities (chiefs) in the address of this menace. One significant challenge that makes it more difficult to address this problem is the reported perceived corruption among the forestry officials and the forest fringe-communities themselves owing to lack of incentives for the illegal logging monitoring activities. The paper recommends that alternative sources of income and incentives be developed for the local communities to reduce their involvement in illegal activities and encourage their participation in the campaigns against the menace under Ghana’s European Union (EU) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) initiative.

Full talk
ID: 304 / 111RB: 5
111R Clandestine and illicit economies as drivers of land system dynamics
Keywords: Social transformation, global governance, criminogenic dynamics, social cohesion, impunity, Amazonia

Collateral Damage – Impacts of LUC/LCC on the social cohesion of local lifeworlds in Amazonia

Regine Schönenberg

Free University Berlin, Germany

Processes of fast social transformation impact heavily on informal survival strategies. In the Brazilian Amazon, incomplete and fragmented formalization, regulation, legalization fosters the criminalization of whole lifeworlds. The explosiveness of wide-ranging societal heterogeneity being confronted with inadequate and badly informed national and international policy-interventions is manifest in land conflicts, contract killing, illegal land markets, irregular urbanization, volatile cocaine routes and, above all, impunity. Since the 1990’s, the interests of local populations became increasingly interlinked with different global interests, such as the search for land for agro-industrial production, the protection of Indigenous people, of the forests, of biodiversity and the climate, the fight of terrorism and the search for secure borders, the demand for precious timber, oil, iron ore, gas and for cocaine. Thereby, livelihood-security of local populations gets often out of sight; instead local populations become part of the different discourses in place. Even internal communication on daily matters becomes hampered by strange concepts such as biodiversity, logging-license, fishery-quota, climate-change mitigation or transnational organized crime. Suddenly, local reference-points for decision-making link up with political and economic networks that can neither been overseen nor influenced. In this situation, many regions lose their social cohesion and enter a spiral of short-lived informal survival strategies which makes them vulnerable for the criminalization of their social and economic reproduction. The interplay and interactions among actors, institutions and networks involved in those dynamics are still under-explored and under-conceptualised.

Effects of national and global governance are being assessed paradigmatically from the bottom-up perspective of the periphery of Brazil. The questions that will be discussed by reconstructing various processes of criminalization are the following: Which ingredients are necessary to trigger a criminogenic dynamic of social transformation? When is the course set for an almost irreversible process of criminalization, a kind of tipping point? Is it possible to find turning points and to reverse the process? Which significance may the results have for the understanding of the advancing social, economic, cultural, ecological and political disintegration of many regions in the world? Which global policy approaches could reverse the process?