This ‘Political Ecology of Land-Use Change’ (POLELUC) focuses on the appropriation of large areas of land, the so-called ‘land grab’, for crops that are predominantly utilized for the production of agrofuels. These phenomena are related to increasing complexities in the governance of land and natural resources, and to discourses around food and energy security and climate change. ‘Land grabs’ and agrofuels production have become key analytical domains for agrarian political economists, political ecologists and ecological economists interested in examining if these processes translate into local and national economic benefits, reproduce inequalities in access to land and result in ecological impacts and trade-offs across ecosystem services, among others. The project proposed takes a cross-scale, multidisciplinary approach to ‘land grab’ and agrofuels production in three Latin American countries (Argentina, Paraguay and Guatemala), paying attention to governance processes and socio-ecological transformations in rural villages involved in oil palm, sugar cane and/or soy plantations. The project relies on traditional qualitative and quantitative methods from the social sciences, innovatively combined with a Multi-Scale Integrated Assessment of the Social Metabolism (MuSIASEM) in selected villages, to determine the biophysical and socio-economic impacts of plantantions and to draw effective comparisons across selected localities. POLELUC is a four-year extremely relevant project at a time that new research is highlighting an increasing number of ‘land grabs’ and the advancement of ‘agrofuels frontier’ in developing countries, and that perceptions of oil scarcity and energy and food security concerns shape investment flows and policy agendas. Project findings will inform academic debates on ‘land grabbing’ and agrofuels, develop further applications of MuSIASEM in this context and discuss the socio-ecological implications of the EU biofuels policy in Latin America.
Fields of science
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