Drivers of land system change

Although global demand for agricultural commodities is a primary driver of tropical land cover change, a multitude of processes (e.g., remittances from labor migration, sustainability initiatives, wildfires) modify tropical land cover dynamics in regions of commodity crop production. How these often more cryptic drivers interact with the commodity crop to alter land system outcomes is not well understood. While alterations in land cover are now relatively easy to identify due to freely available high spatial and temporal resolution satellite remote sensing data, changes in land use and land control remain difficult to map. Currently, we are researching such dynamics as part of a NSF-funded study in Indonesia.

Labor Migration and Effects of Remittances and Commodity Enclosures on Industrial Agriculture and Forest Landscapes

Funding: National Science Foundation Geography and Spatial Sciences

Collaborators: Nancy Peluso, Lisa Kelley & Suraya Afiff

Location: Indonesia

Description: Circular labor migration and the mobility of capital are tremendously important for rural livelihoods and landscape making in Asia, where millions of people and substantial funds regularly move long distances between home and work sites. Through billions of dollars in remittances, labor migrants are infusing cash into rural areas, causing shifts in local labor regimes of agrarian production, household relations, and household accumulation strategies, and generating short and long-term shifts in land use and land cover. At the same time, governments and corporate investors have been appropriating massive amounts of land for industrial-scale production of agricultural and forest commodities, altering landscapes and rural employment opportunities. Yet, the effects of remittances on land use, land cover, and resource control in communities adjacent to and constituted by large-scale agricultural and forest concessions remain understudied. This project will examine linkages between tropical commodity concessions and global labor migration from these regions.