Patrick Meyfroidt

Patrick Meyfroidt
Université Catholique de Louvain - UCLouvain | UCLouvain · Earth and Life Institute

Professor

About

153
Publications
85,286
Reads
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12,724
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2011 - present
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS)
Position
  • Researcher
January 2004 - December 2015
Université Catholique de Louvain - UCLouvain
Position
  • Researcher

Publications

Publications (153)
Article
Cropland mapping in smallholder landscapes is challenged by complex and fragmented landscapes, labor-intensive and unmechanized land management causing high within-field variability, rapid dynamics in shifting cultivation systems, and substantial proportions of short-term fallows. To overcome these challenges, we here present a large-area mapping f...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical dry woodlands are rapidly being lost to agricultural expansion, but how deforestation dynamics play out in these woodlands remains poorly understood. We have developed an approach to detect and map high-level patterns of deforestation frontiers, that is, the expansion of woodland loss across continents in unprecedented spatio-temporal deta...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Smallholders produce about a third of the global crop production. Supporting these smallholder farms is an important lever for poverty alleviation. Farm and field sizes are key indicators of many smallholder dynamics, including fragmentation, farm consolidation, and interactions between smallholders, medium-scale commercial farming, and large enter...
Article
Full-text available
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious effort to increase trans-continental connectivity and cooperation mainly through infrastructure investments and trade. On the one hand, this globally unparalleled initiative is expected to foster economic growth, but on the other hand, it can have substantial environmental implications. The BRI...
Article
The trade in agricultural commodities is a backbone of the global economy but is a major cause of negative social and environmental impacts, not least deforestation. Commodity traders are key actors in efforts to eliminate deforestation-they are active in the regions where commodities are produced and represent a "pinch point" in global trade that...
Article
International funding is increasingly important in supporting conservation in mega-biodiverse countries. However, it remains unclear which donors invest in which conservation objectives and where, making it difficult to identify gaps and key actors to influence. Here we identified 1947 foreign-aided conservation projects in South America's major de...
Article
Full-text available
Land-use frontiers are territories with abundant land for agriculture and forestry, availability of natural resources relative to labor or capital and predisposed to rapid land-use change, often driven by large-scale land investments and capitalized actors, producing commodities for distal markets. Strategic spatial planning (SSP) represents a cons...
Data
Interviewees of the study (n = 30), clustered by the primary focus of interview questions. Appendix 1 of the article Oliveira, E., and P. Meyfroidt. 2022. Strategic spatial planning in emerging land-use frontiers: evidence from Mozambique. Ecology and Society 27(2):5. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-13001-270205
Preprint
Full-text available
Agricultural intensification, through increased yields, and raising incomes, through enhanced labor productivity, are two dimensions prioritized for achieving sustainable agricultural development. Prioritizing these two outcomes leaves a third element of a trade-off space, labor intensity, as a hidden adjustment variable. In contexts where agricult...
Preprint
Biomass carbon stocks (BCS) play a vital role in the climate system, but benchmarked estimates prior to the late 20th century remain scarce. Here, by making use of an early global forest resource assessment and harmonizing information on land use and carbon densities, we establish a global BCS account for the year 1950. Our best-guess BCS estimate...
Preprint
Cropland mapping in complex smallholder landscapes is challenged by complex and fragmented landscapes, labor-intensive and unmechanized land management causing high within-field variability, rapid dynamics in shifting cultivation systems, and substantial proportions of short-term fallows. To overcome these challenges, we here present a large-area m...
Article
The literature on land-use frontiers has overwhelmingly focused on active frontiers of expansion. We focus on an emerging frontier. We studied the decisions, narratives, and practices of the actors driving land-use change in Niassa, Mozambique. Based on ethnographic research carried out between early 2017 and late 2018 among investors engaged in co...
Article
Full-text available
Land use is central to addressing sustainability issues, including biodiversity conservation, climate change, food security, poverty alleviation, and sustainable energy. In this paper, we synthesize knowledge accumulated in land system science, the integrated study of terrestrial social-ecological systems, into 10 hard truths that have strong, gene...
Article
Full-text available
Many companies sourcing agricultural commodities with high deforestation risk have committed to zero deforestation, meaning they intend to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. While previous research has attempted to assess progress against such initiatives, little is known about how the characteristics of sourcing patterns may influen...
Article
Full-text available
The complex nature of sustainability problems and the aim of sustainability science to support emergent processes of transformation require rethinking how we build and make use of theories. We highlight the diversity of ways in which theories, as assemblages of different elements that can serve a variety of purposes, can emerge within inter-discipl...
Preprint
Agricultural expansion into tropical and subtropical forests often leads to major social-ecological trade-offs. Yet, despite ever-more detailed information on where deforestation occurs, how agriculture expands into forests remains unclear. Here, we developed and mapped a novel set of metrics that quantify agricultural frontier processes at unprece...
Article
Full-text available
Actor-level data on large-scale commercial agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa are scarce. The peculiar choice of transnational investing in African land has, therefore, been subject to conjecture. Addressing this gap, we reconstructed the underlying logics of investment location choices in a Bayesian network, using firm- and actor-level interview an...
Article
Full-text available
International funding is increasingly important in supporting conservation in mega-biodiverse countries. However, it remains unclear which donors invest in which conservation objectives and where, making it difficult to identify gaps and key actors to influence. Here we identified 1947 foreign-aided conservation projects in South America's major de...
Article
Dry forests are among the most threatened ecosystems globally, due to agricultural expansion driven by the increasing demand for food, fibers, and energy in developed and emerging countries. Among these, the forests of the South American Gran Chaco are one of the global deforestation hotspots. The Argentine Dry Chaco has been the focus of several s...
Article
Full-text available
Human-induced activities are threatening the socio-economic and ecological sustainability of land systems globally, including in tropical, low-income regions. In these regions, land-use planning is used to assess, manage, and monitor the physical, social, and economic conditions of territories and thus assist agribusiness, smallholder farmers, and...
Article
Climate change and socio-economic dynamics are driving rapid agricultural expansion in boreal and Arctic regions, referred to as northern agricultural frontiers, and this has large potential environmental and human implications. Conceptualizing northern agricultural frontiers as resource frontiers and building on lessons from the tropics could help...
Article
Tree planting has the potential to address a wide range of environmental and economic challenges. However, planting initiatives can also do more harm than good. Characteristics such as land tenure and land use before conversion to tree plantation are key to assessing the potential risks and benefits of tree planting initiatives. Here, we present a...
Article
The effectiveness of incentive-based conservation programs depends on how they influence and interact with multiple motivations of the participants. Here, we studied an incentive-based program for forest conservation in Bolivia – called “Reciprocal Watershared Agreements” – that mixes material compensations with pro-social and pro-environmental mot...
Preprint
Full-text available
Human-induced activities are threatening the socio-economic and ecological sustainability of land systems globally, including in tropical regions. Authorities in these regions prepare and implement land-use plans to select and organize land uses in a way that will meet the needs of local communities while safeguarding ecosystems services. To this e...
Article
Full-text available
Forest dynamics are changing at a local and global level, with multiple social and environmental implications. The current literature points to different theories and hypotheses to explain these forest dynamics. In this paper, we formalized some of those theories, the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC), the forest transition and the ecologically une...
Preprint
To understand how land-use frontiers emerge, we studied the actors driving investments in Niassa province, Mozambique. Our ethnographic research over 2017-2018 among commercial agriculture and forestry investors shows that successive waves of actors with different backgrounds, motives and business practices, arrived in Niassa to establish farms or...
Article
Full-text available
Though the international trade in agricultural commodities is worth more than 1.6 trillion USD per year, we still have a poor understanding of the supply chains connecting places of production and consumption and the socio-economic and environmental impacts of this trade. In this study, we provide the first wall-to-wall subnational map of the origi...
Technical Report
Full-text available
EU action to reduce deforestation and other habitat loss is more likely to be effective and feasible if: 1. Legislation is extended to include not just deforestation and forest degradation, but also the conversion of other ecologically important ecosystems, including savannahs and wetlands. A failure to do this risks large- scale displacement of i...
Article
Forests have re-taken centre stage in global conversations about sustainability, climate and biodiversity. Here, we use a horizon scanning approach to identify five large-scale trends that are likely to have substantial medium- and long-term effects on forests and forest livelihoods: forest megadisturbances; changing rural demographics; the rise of...
Preprint
Vietnam’s forests have undergone major transformations since the 1990s, including a transition from net forest loss to net expansion, which is attributable to plantation forests and rehabilitated forests. Our study aimed to better understand the patterns and the causes of forest cover rehabilitation in Vietnam to expand tropical forests in other re...
Article
Full-text available
The increasing expansion of cropland is major driver of global carbon emissions and biodiversity loss. However, predicting plausible future global distributions of croplands remains challenging. Here, we show that, in general, existing global data aligned with classical economic theories of expansion explain the current (1992) global extent of crop...
Article
Full-text available
Land system science and affiliated research linked to sustainability require improved understanding and theorization of land and its change as a social-ecological system (SES). The absence of a general land-use theory, anchored in the social subsystem but with explicit links to the environmental subsystem, hampers this effort. Drawing on land-use e...
Article
Trade agreements could help to protect human rights, critical ecosystems, and the climate—but only if sustainability becomes a cornerstone of international trade. The EU-Mercosur trade agreement fails to meet our three tenets of sustainable trade agreements: (1) inclusion of local communities, (2) transparency mechanisms to trace commodities and pr...
Preprint
Full-text available
Tree plantations can contribute to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by creating job opportunities, storing carbon, and providing wood products that relieve pressure on natural forests. However, their impacts on SDGs are largely contingent upon the land uses they replace. Here we present a framework for understanding the develo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Investment and market conditions across much of Africa are unfavorable. With scarce empirical evidence, the peculiar choice of investing in land in the African frontiers has been the subject of many conjectures. We address this gap by reconstructing the underlying logics of investment location choices in a Bayesian network with firm and actor level...
Article
Full-text available
Governing land use to achieve sustainable outcomes is challenging, because land systems manifest complex land use spillovers-i.e. processes by which land use changes or direct interventions in land use (e.g. policy, program, new technologies) in one place have impacts on land use in another place. The ERL issue 'Focus on Leakage: Informing Land-Use...
Article
Full-text available
To allow for the production of timber while preserving conservation values, forestry regulations in the Congo Basin have made Forest Management Plans (FMP) mandatory in logging concessions. This paper uses original high-resolution maps of forest-cover changes and official records on the activities of logging concessions to analyze the impact of FMP...
Article
Full-text available
In the context of growing societal demands for land-based products, crop production can be increased through expanding cropland or intensifying production on cultivated land. Intensification can allow sparing land for nature, but it can also drive further expansion of cropland, i.e. a rebound effect. Conversely, constraints on cropland expansion ma...
Article
Full-text available
Commodity trade is central to the global economy but is also associated with socio-environmental impacts, for example, deforestation, especially in producer countries. It is crucial to understand how geographic sourcing patterns of commodities and commercial relationships between places and actors influence land-use dynamics, socio-economic develop...
Article
Full-text available
Crop booms in forest frontiers are a major contributor to land conversion and deforestation. In this study, we investigate the smallholder-driven northern Laos rubber boom in two case study areas (CSAs) with different speed and intensity of rubber expansion. We assess the relative importance of market, contextual, and behavioral factors in fosterin...
Article
Full-text available
China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013, is rapidly subsuming much of China's political and economic involvement abroad. As a far‐reaching infrastructure development and investment strategy, officially involving more than 130 countries, the expansion of the BRI raises important questions about its environmental impacts and its impl...
Presentation
Full-text available
It is about Geographic stickiness in the trade of commodities: what is it? what influences it? what are some potential implications for the implementation of the SDGs?
Preprint
Vietnam’s forests have undergone major transformations since the 1990s, including a transition from net forest loss to net expansion. Plantation forests and rehabilitated forests have contributed to this transition. Under the growing effects of climate change, it is important to understand the socioeconomic drivers of Vietnam’s rehabilitated forest...
Article
Full-text available
Vietnam’s forests have experienced a notable transformation over the past 20 years from net deforestation to reforestation and expanding forests. Continued reforestation that aims to achieve further economic and environmental benefits remains a national priority and strategy. We explore the current status of plantation forests and highlight possibl...
Article
Full-text available
In order to improve sustainability and design adequate management strategies in threatened tropical forests, integrated assessments of the use of ecosystem services are needed, combining biophysical, social, and economic approaches. In particular, no integrated ecosystem services (ES) assessment has been conducted in Central Africa, where rural com...
Article
Full-text available
Zero deforestation commitments (ZDCs) are voluntary initiatives where companies or countries pledge to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. These commitments offer much promise for sustainable commodity production, but are undermined by a lack of transparency about their coverage and impacts. Here, using state-of-the-art supply chain d...
Preprint
Though the international trade in agricultural commodities is worth more than 1.6 trillion USD per year, we still have a poor understanding of the supply chains connecting places of production and consumption and the socio-economic and environmental impacts of this trade. In this study, we provide the first wall-to-wall subnational map of the origi...
Article
Full-text available
In the 1990s, some districts in the Northern Vietnamese highlands were opened for international tourism. The development of tourism was expected to bring a new income source to remote mountain areas. This paper analyzes the association between tourism development, local livelihoods and land cover change at the household level. Sa Pa district was se...
Article
Extensions of forest-transition theory to the tropics often depict sustained expansions of planted tree cover and corresponding long-term net gains in total tree cover. To explore the patterns and implications of continued tropical planted tree-cover expansion, we profiled sequences of tree-cover change over 1990–2010 according to Landsat imagery f...
Article
Full text: https://rdcu.be/bVy8H | https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-019-0412-1 | doi: 10.1038/s41893-019-0412-1 | Regional and global assessments periodically update what we know, and highlight what remains to be known, about the linkages between people and nature that both define and depend upon the state of the environment. To guide resear...
Article
Full-text available
In an increasingly interconnected world, leakage - broadly understood as unintended displacement of impacts caused by an environmental policy intervention - has become a major governance concern. Yet, leakage remains both loosely conceptualized and poorly understood as a phenomenon in policy making. To fill this gap and broaden the leakage research...
Preprint
Zero deforestation commitments (ZDCs) are voluntary initiatives where companies or countries pledge to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. These commitments offer much promise for sustainable commodity production, but are undermined by a lack of transparency about their coverage and impacts. Here, using state-of-the-art supply chain d...
Article
Full-text available
Archetypes are increasingly used as a methodological approach to understand recurrent patterns in variables and processes that shape the sustainability of social-ecological systems. The rapid growth and diversification of archetype analyses has generated variations, inconsistencies, and confusion about the meanings, potentials, and limitations of a...
Article
The increasing global interconnectivity influencing land system change brings with it new challenges for land-system science. We evaluate whether recent land-system science (LSS) research into telecoupling provides a basis to set normative goals or priorities for addressing sustainability in coupled human-natural systems. We summarize the challenge...
Article
Sustainable intensification of agricultural production is expected to be an important pathway for achieving future food security while protecting the environment. Recognizing that there is no single answer to how different dimensions of intensification can be achieved sustainably, we identify opportunities for research across spatial scales. We foc...
Article
Full-text available
As the global food system contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, understanding the sources of GHG emissions embodied in different components of food systems is important. The collapse of the Soviet Union triggered a massive restructuring of the domestic food systems, namely declining consumption of animal products, crop...
Article
Full-text available
Interactions between land systems and food systems are central in land system science. Here, we highlight three interrelated emerging directions for renewing this research agenda: 1) What is the role of input providers, and in particular external advisors, financial institutions, and investment modes in shaping farm management decisions? 2) Beyond...
Article
Full-text available
Brazil, home to one of the planet’s last great forests, is currently in trade negotiations with its second largest trading partner, the European Union (EU). We urge the EU to seize this critical opportunity to ensure that Brazil protects human rights and the environment. Brazil’s forests, wetlands, and savannas are crucial to a great diversity of I...
Presentation
Full-text available
Why does stickiness in global commodity trade matter? What is it? How can we measure it? How can we use it?
Article
Science should provide solutions for societal transformations toward sustainability in the face of global environmental change. Land system science, as a systemic science focused on complex socio-ecological interactions around land use and associated trade-offs and synergies, is well placed to contribute to this agenda. This goal requires a stronge...
Article
Full-text available
Forest transitions occur when net reforestation replaces net deforestation in places. Because forest transitions can increase biodiversity and augment carbon sequestration, they appeal to policymakers contending with the degrading effects of forest loss and climate change. What then can policymakers do to trigger forest transitions? The historical...