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Large-Scale Land Transactions as Drivers of Land-Cover Change in Sub-Saharan Africa

Large-Scale Land Transactions as Drivers of Land-Cover Change in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Funder: NASA
Project Period: 2015-2017

This project aims to synthesize available remotely sensed and other information, complemented with targeted new data collection, to investigate the impacts of recent large-scale land transactions. Ours is the first project to undertake a systematic, quantitative analysis of the impacts from large-scale changes in land tenure on land-cover change and livelihoods, to investigate both the multiple drivers of and the patterns of interactions among these outcomes, and to do so through a rigorous, statistical matching-based causal inference approach. We make use of existing satellite-based land-cover products and survey-based socioeconomic data in and around the locations of recent large-scale land acquisitions in three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Land Transition Project

We pose two sets of research questions:

First, what are the patterns of large (\>5,000 ha) transactions, in terms of number, size, anticipated use, and impacts in the target countries; what is their distribution across environmental, institutional, economic, and social contexts; and what are the sources of investment for large scale land transactions between 2000 and 2012?

Second, how have land cover and livelihood outcomes changed in and around a selection of transacted properties, and how do these changes compare to changes observed at similar locations within the same countries? We select Ethiopia, Tanzania and Liberia as countries of study, which vary significantly on numbers and sizes of transactions, and the primary purposes of the transaction.

The primary outcome of this project will be new information about the role of large-scale land transactions in local and regional land systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, a topic about which much has been written but for which systematic empirical evidence is sorely needed and for which satellite remotes sensing serves as a valuable data input.

Land Transactions at Different Scales

Land Transactions at Different Scales