Governing agriculture-driven land cover change in the tropics


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Abstract: Agricultural expansion is one of the leading drivers of land cover change, carbon emissions, biodiversity losses, and human conflict globally. However, agricultural production also supports economies, including for smallholders for whom agriculture is vital to both their livelihoods and culture. Interventions that can decouple land cover change from agricultural production whilst not unfairly burdening vulnerable producers are urgently needed. Such initiatives are especially critical in regions with weak public governance. Strategies to address agricultural expansion include implementation of sustainability commitments by agribusiness corporations, due diligence laws by importer nations, sustainability certification, supply chain traceability systems, and the provision of incentives to farmers (e.g., payments for ecosystem services). While a growing body of research investigates these interventions, there remains significant ambiguity regarding their impacts on both conservation and human wellbeing, as well as tradeoffs between program (e.g., reduce deforestation) and societal (e.g., reduce poverty, conserve biodiversity, and mitigate climate change) goals. In this session we aim to bring together novel research into these issues and to foster discussion that can cut across the diversity of public and private policies that have been both proposed and enacted globally. Potential topics and methodological approaches may include but are not limited to effectiveness-equity tradeoffs, smallholder exclusion from supply chains, comparative case studies across different interventions, actors, and regions, descriptive assessments of system dynamics, and causal inference of intervention impact. We encourage research into both forest and non-forest biomes.

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