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Land-use regime shifts: an analytical framework and agenda for future land-use research

Navin Ramankutty, Liu Institute for Global Issues; Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, University of British Columbia
Oliver T. Coomes, Department of Geography, McGill University


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A key research frontier in global change research lies in understanding processes of land change to inform predictive models of future land states. We believe that significant advances in the field are hampered by limited attention being paid to critical points of change termed land-use regime shifts. We present an analytical framework for understanding land-use regime shifts. We survey historical events of land change and perform in-depth case studies of soy and shrimp development in Latin America to demonstrate the role of preconditions, triggers, and self-reinforcing processes in driving land-use regime shifts. Whereas the land-use literature demonstrates a good understanding of within-regime dynamics, our understanding of the drivers of land-use regime shifts is limited to ex post facto explications. Theoretical and empirical advances are needed to better understand the dynamics and implications of land-use regime shifts. We draw insights from the regime-shifts literature to propose a research agenda for studying land change.

Key words

land-cover change; land-use change; Latin America; modeling; prediction; regime shifts

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087