Eric F. Lambin's research while affiliated with Stanford University and other places

Publications (311)

Article
Mitigating the predicted impacts of climate change requires rapid expansion of renewable energy production, including Utility-Scale Solar Energy (USSE) on an unprecedented scale. In the US, a significant share of planned USSE targets working lands—particularly farms and ranches—yet the decision factors informing private landowners’ decisions to hos...
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Forest degradation in the tropics is a widespread, yet poorly understood phenomenon. This is particularly true for tropical and subtropical dry forests, where a variety of disturbances, both natural and anthropogenic, affect forest canopies. Addressing forest degradation thus requires a spatially-explicit understanding of the causes of disturbances...
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Schistosomiasis is a debilitating parasitic disease of poverty that affects more than 200 million people worldwide, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, and is clearly associated with the construction of dams and water resource management infrastructure in tropical and subtropical areas. Changes to hydrology and salinity linked to water infrastructure dev...
Preprint
Schistosomiasis is a debilitating parasitic disease of poverty that affects more than 200 million people worldwide, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, and is clearly associated with the construction of dams and water resource management infrastructure in tropical and subtropical areas. Changes to hydrology and salinity linked to water infrastructure dev...
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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...
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Production of cocoa, the third largest trade commodity globally has experienced climate related yield stagnation since 2016, forcing farmers to expand production in forested habitats and to shift from nature friendly agroforestry systems to intensive monocultures. The goal for future large-scale cocoa production combines high yields with biodiversi...
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Forest loss in the tropics affects large areas, but whereas full forest conversions are routinely assessed, forest degradation patters remain often unclear. This is particularly so for the world’s tropical dry forests, where remote sensing of forest disturbances is challenging due to high canopy complexity, strong phenology and climate variability,...
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Sand, gravel, and crushed rock, together referred to as construction aggregates, are the most extracted solid materials. Growing demand is damaging ecosystems, triggering social conflicts, and fueling concerns over sand scarcity. Balancing protection efforts and extraction to meet society's needs requires designing sustainable pathways at a system...
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Governance of global natural resources is increasingly hybrid, with complementary public and private sector initiatives layered on landscapes to improve environmental outcomes. The challenge of polycentric land use governance is alignment of goals across diverse governance mechanisms when agricultural producers, public agencies, and corporations ha...
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Climate drives population dynamics through multiple mechanisms, which can lead to seemingly context-dependent effects of climate on natural populations. For climate-sensitive diseases, such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika, climate appears to have opposing effects in different contexts. Here we show that a model, parameterized with laboratory measu...
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Tropical forests are under increasing pressure, but conservation interventions have had only limited success in mitigating deforestation and ecosystem degradation. Over the past decade, however, jurisdictional approaches to sustainable resource use have attracted increasing attention as a potential alternative to traditional conservation strategies...
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Non-technical summary Tropical deforestation continues apace despite a proliferation of commitments made by companies and governments to control it. Halting and reversing deforestation requires multiple, complementary interventions by state and non-state actors at different scales. We argue that the order in which these instruments and actors are i...
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Livestock grazing on natural rangeland vegetation is one of the most extensive land uses on the earth, with important implications for livelihoods, food security and the environment. Factors such as population growth and urban development, a shift from resource-based to service-based economies, and intensification in the livestock industry change t...
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In response to the important benefits forests provide, there is a growing effort to reforest the world. Past policies and current commitments indicate that many of these forests will be plantations. Since plantations often replace more carbon-rich or biodiverse land covers, this approach to forest expansion may undermine objectives of increased car...
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The coffee sector is facing several sustainability challenges. We ask whether addressing these is transforming the entire coffee sector or rather leading to market differentiation. Drawing on stakeholder theory and global value chain analysis, we analyse how the coffee sector approaches sustainability by examining the sustainability efforts of a ra...
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Purpose Natural American Spirit (NAS) cigarettes, which have recently grown in popularity, are marketed as eco-friendly and natural. The present study examined whether NAS's on-the-pack messaging influences adolescents' health perceptions of the brand. Methods In a mixed-factor design, adolescent participants (N = 1,003, ages 13–17, 75% female) we...
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The main challenge for a sustainability transition is to scale up successful solutions. Upscaling requires coalitions of public, private, and civil society actors who align their motivations. Pathways to upscaling may involve leveraging a dominant player's market power, integrating successful initiatives into public policy, or reinforcing governmen...
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The rise of public and private zero-deforestation commitments is opening a new collaborative space in global forest governance. Governments seeking to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by protecting and restoring forests are partnering with companies motivated to eliminate deforestation from supply chains. The proliferation of zero-deforesta...
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ContextDeforestation and landscape fragmentation have been identified as processes enabling direct transmission of zoonotic infections. Certain human behaviors provide opportunities for direct contact between humans and wild nonhuman primates (NHPs), but are often missing from studies linking landscape level factors and observed infectious diseases...
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We consider two aspects of the human enterprise that profoundly affect the global environment: population and consumption. We show that fertility and consumption behavior harbor a class of externalities that have not been much noted in the literature. Both are driven in part by attitudes and preferences that are not egoistic but socially embedded;...
Preprint
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Climate drives population dynamics, but when the underlying mechanisms are unresolved, studies can lead to seemingly contradictory effects of climate on natural populations. Climate-sensitive vector-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika are one example where climate appears to have opposing effects in different contexts. In this stud...
Article
Sustainability within planetary boundaries requires concerted action by individuals, governments, civil society and private actors. For the private sector, there is concern that the power exercised by transnational corporations generates, and is even central to, global environmental change. Here, we ask under which conditions transnational corporat...
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Global trade in niche commodities has increased the influence of consumers' choices on land use change and livelihoods in developing rural areas. New niche commodity markets for fine cocoa—produced by old tree varieties frequently grown in shaded agroforestry systems—create more direct linkages between producers and buyers. We explored the socioeco...
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A variety of policy interventions from public authorities and private companies attempt to reduce deforestation in private forest concessions. These include fines for illegal deforestation and market incentives for forest management practices that meet sustainability standards. While some studies have found significant differences in forest outcome...
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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...
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Agricultural land abandonment and transformation of the rural mountain landscapes have been of widespread occurrence in the European mountains. Such changes have strongly affected agricultural land, particularly traditionally used grasslands, which are hotspots of biological and cultural diversity in Alpine countries. We investigated the land use/c...
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Oil palm expansion resulted in 2 million hectares (Mha) of forest loss globally in 2000–2010. Despite accounting for 24% (4.5 Mha) of the world’s total oil palm cultivated area, expansion dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa have been overlooked. We show that in Southwest Cameroon, a top producing region of Africa, 67% of oil palm expansion from 2000–201...
Chapter
Biodiversity loss, the conversion of natural ecosystems, the impact of climate change on ecosystems, and the depletion of fish stocks in the oceans are all complex, “wicked” problems that lack an easily identifiable and generalizable solution (DeFries and Nagendra 2017). Most of these problems are large in scope as they cover multiple geographies,...
Article
Overlapping land use allocations, in which one parcel of land is allocated two or more times for different uses, either intentionally or unintentionally, are common globally. We assess how overlapping land use allocations impact forest cover change using Peruvian government data for the lowland Amazon. Results are based on propensity score matched...
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This comment raises concerns regarding the way in which a new European directive, aimed at reaching higher renewable energy targets, treats wood harvested directly for bioenergy use as a carbon-free fuel. The result could consume quantities of wood equal to all Europe's wood harvests, greatly increase carbon in the air for decades, and set a danger...
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Purpose Conversion of shaded agroforests to unshaded monocultures endangers the resilience of tropical landscapes. Landscape-scale impacts of alternative shade managements have rarely been assessed. This study explored plantation- and landscape-level impacts of different shade management strategies on aboveground biomass, functional group diversity...
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Deforestation associated with agricultural expansion, particularly that of extensive cattle ranching, remains a pressing challenge for sustainable development and climate mitigation efforts in South America. In response to these challenges, national and local governments, as well as private and non-governmental actors, have developed new forest con...
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Demand for traditional medicine ingredients is causing species declines globally. Due to this trade, Himalayan caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) has become one of the world's most valuable biological commodities, providing a crucial source of income for hundreds of thousands of collectors. However, the resulting harvesting boom has gener...
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New partnerships between governments, private companies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are reshaping global environmental governance. In particular, there has been a rise of voluntary sustainability standards in an attempt to manage social and environmental impacts of global supply chains. We analyze the large spectrum of interactions be...
Technical Report
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Evaluation of conservation policies may generate controversy and lead to diverging interpretations if interest groups do not share a common understanding of concepts, methods, and perspectives. This may have serious consequences if findings are used to orient future policies. To avoid such issues, recent research highlights some necessary steps to...
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Bhutan is characterized by a landscape dominated by forests. A substantial share of these forests is dedicated to nature conservation, with an extensive protected area network connected by biological corridors. Forestlands are also partly allocated to timber production, including forest management units subjected to strict regulations. We assessed...
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Smallholders are crucial for global sustainability given their importance to food and nutritional security, agriculture, and biodiversity conservation. Worldwide smallholders are subject to expanded telecoupling whereby their social-ecological systems are linked to large-scale socioeconomic and environmental drivers. The present research uses the s...
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Rigorous impact assessments test for causal effects of interventions on outcomes of interest. When findings of such assessments become part of political and scholarly controversies, they can be interpreted in unintended ways. The value of the ensuing debate is enhanced by a shared understanding of key concepts, methodological approaches, and evalua...
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Global supply chains play a critical role in many of the most pressing environmental stresses and social struggles identified by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Responding to calls from the global community, companies are adopting a variety of voluntary practices to improve the environmental and/or social management of the...
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The chocolate market is experiencing a wave of market differentiation thanks to the emergence of the bean-to-bar movement. Cacao is seeing both a rise in demand for mass markets and a process of market bifurcation into more specialized, high-quality products for wealthy urban consumers. For the specialized market, the quality and origin of the bean...
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A major reduction in global deforestation is needed to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss. Recent private sector commitments aim to eliminate deforestation from a company’s operations or supply chain, but they fall short on several fronts. Company pledges vary in the degree to which they include time-bound interventions with clear defini...
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Food retailers and manufacturers are increasingly committing to address agricultural sustainability issues in their supply chains. In place of using established eco-certifications, many companies define their own supply chain sustainability standards. Scholars remain divided on whether we should expect such company-led programs to affect change. We...
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Better aligning agriculture and environmental policies is an important issue for Mediterranean areas. Minimizing conflicts between the two sectors requires better understanding farmers’ concerns. Using survey data among a sample of livestock farmers in the French Mediterranean Alps, we examine the main constraints they are confronted with. While Fr...
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Oil palm production expanded 1.2 million hectares in sub-Saharan Africa since 1990, with expansion accelerating in several heavily forested countries since 2000. Despite a narrative of expansion driven by multinational corporations, we provide evidence of a dynamic non-industrial oil palm production sector linked to a burgeoning informal milling en...
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We evaluated a program of payments for ecosystem services in Uganda that offered forest-owning households annual payments of 70,000 Ugandan shillings per hectare if they conserved their forest. The program was implemented as a randomized controlled trial in 121 villages, 60 of which received the program for 2 years. The primary outcome was the chan...
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When urban areas expand without concomitant increases in wastewater treatment capacity, vast quantities of wastewater are released to surface waters with little or no treatment. Downstream of many urban areas are large areas of irrigated croplands reliant on these same surface water sources. Case studies document the widespread use of untreated was...
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Reducing large-scale deforestation is a key objective of global efforts to mitigate climate change. An important debate concerns the levels of governance at which deforestation can be reduced effectively. Political economic theory and evidence suggests that national governments are more likely than subnational governments in agricultural frontiers...
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Understanding the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on zoonotic disease risk is both a critical conservation objective and a public health priority. Here, we evaluate the effects of multiple forms of anthropogenic disturbance across a precipitation gradient on the abundance of pathogen-infected small mammal hosts in a multi-host, multi-pathogen...
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Rapid integration of global agricultural markets and subsequent cropland displacement in recent decades increased large-scale tropical deforestation in South America and Southeast Asia. Growing land scarcity and more stringent land use regulations in these regions could incentivize the offshoring of export-oriented commodity crops to sub-Saharan Af...
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Reducing large-scale deforestation in commodity frontiers remains a key challenge for climate change mitigation and the conservation of biodiversity. Public and private anti-deforestation policies have been shown to effectively reduce forest loss, but the conditions under which such policies get adopted are rarely examined. Here we propose a set of...
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The Planetary Boundaries (PB) framework represents a significant advance in specifying the ecological constraints on human development. However, to enable decision-makers in business and public policy to respect these constraints in strategic planning, the PB framework needs to be developed to generate practical tools. With this objective in mind,...
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International market forces have played an increasingly important role in shaping land use dynamics through complex supply chains. In Costa Rica, the shift from a net loss to a net gain in forest cover was facilitated by forest plantations and the replacement of extensive cropland and pastures by export-oriented, high-yielding crops. However, agric...
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Private investments to address environmental issues are perceived as a powerful engine of sustainability. For the agri-food sector, multiple instruments have been developed to green supply chains. Yet little is known about the underlying process and conditions under which green sourcing concerns lead to the adoption of specific sustainability instr...
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In France, agricultural land abandonment constitutes a critical issue. Mountains, in particular, are reckoned to be particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon; therefore, several policy measures attempt to maintain agricultural activities in mountains. In addition to the role of targeted subsidies in reducing abandonment of mountainous areas, we co...