Archetypes of Transnational Land Acquisitions: Towards a generalization of case study knowledge for informed Soil governance (ATLAS)

land acquisitions

Large-scale land acquisitions (LSLA) have become a key driver for transformations of agroenergy systems at a global scale. In the target regions of LSLAs, soils provide key functions for stakeholders and investors alike including the provision of food, fibre and fuel, water purification, flood regulation and carbon sequestration. Through LSLAs, soils are becoming an increasingly important, scarce and contested resource in target regions. This project analyzes competing demands of different stakeholders and investors for soil functions.


The main objectives of this research project are fourfold. It identifies recurrent patterns of competing demands for soil functions and explains how such contests emerge and what impact they have in terms of soil sustainability. Secondly, the project distinguishes different soil management systems. In the third part, the project develops and applies an indicator set for assessing the sustainability of soil management systems in different contexts. Finally, based on this knowledge the project identifies policy and management options for more sustainable use of soils.


The project combines a meta-analytic and transdisciplinary research approach. Meta-analysis of case studies allows us to identify recurrent patterns of processes and impacts of LSLAs in terms of soil sustainability that are observed in numerous cases of LSLAs. It also enables us to identify those success factors and opportunities that account for more sustainable use of soils. The project involves regular transdisciplinary interaction with stakeholders from policy, civil society, business and relevance to make sure that the project involves stakeholder knowledge and is relevant for wider societal debates on soil sustainability and large-scale land acquisitions.

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