Operationalizing Resilience Analysis for Land System Archetypes


Climate change, financial shocks, and fluctuations in international trade are some of the reasons why the concept of resilience is increasingly invoked in discussion about land use policy. However, resilience assessments come with the challenge of operationalization, upscaling their conclusions while considering the context-specific nature of land use dynamics and the common lack of long-term data. We revisit the approach of system archetypes for identifying resilience surrogates and apply it to land use systems. We use 7 case studies spread across Latin America, situating each of them in a historically informed regional context and within the context of contemporary agro-food globalization. The approach relies on expert-knowledge and literature-based characterizations of the key processes and patterns of land use change synthesized in a data template. These narrative accounts are used to guide the development of causal networks, from which potential surrogates for resilience are identified: common causal pathways and leverage points. We found that deforestation, international trade, technological improvements and conservation initiatives are key drivers of land use change, and that rural migration, leasing and land pricing, conflicts in property rights, and international spillovers are common causal pathways that underlie these transitions. Policies are situated as leverage points but their effects are often ambiguous and contested. We discuss how these archetypes could become a tool that facilitates the transfer of policy lessons across heterogeneous settings, as well as a practical resource for land use modelling and theory development. We advocate for systematically applying this approach to a much broader set of case studies, appealing to the land change science community to develop a database aimed at the identification of land use change archetypes

Stockholm, Sweden