Land use change

Lion looks at his new surroundings from the National Park near Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Matthias Engesser

Changes in land use – such as from forestry to agriculture – are at the heart of global challenges of sustainable development. Tropical forest regions are particularly affected. They are the focus of investors pursuing commercial production of rubber, palm oil, soya, cacao, and other cash crops. This results in far-reaching changes to vegetation and industrial production methods that contribute to climate change, species loss, and diminished ecoystem services.

With the help of satellite images, geographic information systems, and participatory mapping, CDE develops methods to evaluate changes in land use – from the village to the regional level. In addition, its researchers analyse the decision-making of diverse stakeholders to find out what drives changes in land use. Further, they examine the quantitative and qualitative impacts of land use change on ecosystem services and human well-being. The knowledge gained in this way is used to steer land use change towards sustainability.