Special Issue "Trade-offs between Large-Scale and Small-Scale Forest Commercialization"


A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2014

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Aaron J.M. Russell
Scientist, Forests and Governance Programme, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia
Website: http://www.cifor.org
E-Mail: a.russell@cgiar.org
Phone: +62 251 8622 622
Interests: adaptive collaborative management; organisational learning; ecosystem-based adaptation; action research; decentralisation; power; gender; impact assessment

Guest Editor
Dr. Krystof Obidzinski
Scientist, Forests and Governance Programme, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia
Website: http://www.cifor.org
E-Mail: k.obidzinski@cgiar.org
Phone: +62 251 8622 622

Guest Editor
Dr. Harpinder Sandhu
School of the Environment, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
Website: http://www.flinders.edu.au/people/harpinder.sandhu
E-Mail: Harpinder.Sandhu@flinders.edu.au
Phone: +61 8 8201 2845
Interests: theory and practice of ecosystem services; Land use/cover change and impacts on ecosystem services; Poverty and biodiversity interactions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Decade of 2000 witnessed transactions of 106 million hectares of land (40-50% forested land) in developing countries for large-scale agricultural investment. It is estimated that by 2050, up to 70 million hectares of new land will have to be brought under cultivation to meet the global demand for food, fuel, fiber and other commodities. Various countries in Asia have endeavoured to take advantage of this demand to further national development objectives by opening up their forested areas to domestic and foreign investments. Among all continents, this pressure is expected to be greatest in Asia, where projections middle class growth and associated consumption during the next decade will surpass that in all other regions of the world.

Much of the recent literature is focused on examining the perceived negative impacts of large scale land investments in specific geographical regions or specific commodities. A missing element informing the policy debate has been the comparative assessment of the societal and ecological costs and benefits of: a) large-scale conversion of forest for alternative (and frequently capital intensive) land-use, with b) small-scale land conversion and/or forest product commercialization, and c) the maintenance of customary uses of the forested lands. Additionally, whether land-use change and intensification is large or small in scale, or whether forest resources are privatized or managed under a common property regime, the transformation has an impact on, and interacts with ecosystem services from those forest commons that remain.

This special issue will explore the drivers contributing to the transformation of forests into small and large-scale land-use systems and their impacts on society and the environment. Submissions comparing both local and national/regional case studies are welcome. This special issue will focus on studies from the greater Mekong and Himalayan regions of Asia.

Dr. Aaron J.M. Russell
Dr. Krystof Obidzinski
Dr. Harpinder Sandhu
Guest Editors


Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. For the first couple of issues the Article Processing Charge (APC) will be waived for well-prepared manuscripts. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.


  • land-use change
  • ecosystem services
  • forest conversion
  • land concessions
  • land-use intensification
  • livelihood resilience

Published Papers (4 papers)

by , ,  and
Land 2014, 3(2), 414-436; doi:10.3390/land3020414
Received: 28 January 2014; in revised form: 2 May 2014 / Accepted: 13 May 2014 / Published: 20 May 2014
Show/Hide Abstract | PDF Full-text (895 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text

by ,  and
Land 2014, 3(2), 482-503; doi:10.3390/land3020482
Received: 30 January 2014; in revised form: 4 May 2014 / Accepted: 27 May 2014 / Published: 10 June 2014
Show/Hide Abstract | PDF Full-text (353 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text

by ,  and
Land 2014, 3(3), 541-556; doi:10.3390/land3030541
Received: 21 March 2014; in revised form: 17 June 2014 / Accepted: 18 June 2014 / Published: 27 June 2014
Show/Hide Abstract | PDF Full-text (216 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text

Land 2014, 3(3), 574-597; doi:10.3390/land3030574
Received: 21 January 2014; in revised form: 18 June 2014 / Accepted: 23 June 2014 / Published: 30 June 2014
Show/Hide Abstract | PDF Full-text (344 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text

Submitted Papers

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Impacts of Land-Use Change on Ecosystem Services: A Case Study of Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR
Authors: Harpinder Sandhu1,*, Aaron J.M. Russell2 and Joost Foppes3
Affiliations: 1,* School of the Environment, Flinders University, Adelaide SA 5001 Australia; harpinder.sandhu@flinders.edu.au
2 Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia; a.russell@cgiar.org
3 Integrated Nature Conservation, Thakhek, Khammouane, Lao PDR; jfoppes@gmail.com
Abstract: Natural and managed forests are the most important global providers of ecosystem services and a significant proportion of the population in developing countries is dependent on forest resources for their livelihoods. However, ecosystem services are frequently left out of the decision making process in managing forests due to the limited information on the economic valuation of these services for local and downstream users. Moreover, recent climate projections indicate that developing countries are more likely to suffer from climate variability and change in climate patterns. Forests can play greater role in enhancing resilience to climate change and thus it is important to understand the value of ecosystem services provided by forests for managing them more sustainably. This study quantified impacts of alternative land-uses on ecosystem services in Savannakhet Province in Lao PDR. It describes an ecosystem services valuation framework and approaches to identify economic impacts of three land use types – agriculture, dry forest and plantations. This study provides as economic valuation of ecosystem services associated with these three land-use types and conclude with some policy options for the sustainable management of forest resources and livelihoods of communities.
Keywords: agriculture; ecosystem services; land-use; Lao PDR; livelihoods

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Land acquisitions, land use conflicts and the potential role of mediation in transforming conflict in Cambodia
Authors: Ahmad Dhiaulhaq *, James Bampton, Toon De Bruyn, Julian Atkinson, David Gritten
Affiliaiton: RECOFTC - The Center for People and Forests. Kasetsart Post Office P.O. Box 1111, Bangkok, 10903, Thailand; E-Mails: ahmad.dhiaulhaq@recoftc.org (A.D.), james@recoftc.org (J.B.), toon.debruyn@recoftc.org (T.D.), julian.atkinson@recoftc.org (J.A), david.gritten@recoftc.org (D.G.)
Abstract: The nature of land (and subsoil) acquisitions by domestic and transnational investors in the Greater Mekong subregion (GMS), compounded by weak governance, make land use conflict inevitable. The existing and potential impacts of these conflicts highlight the importance of effectively addressing them to firstly mitigate the negative impacts and secondly to transform these conflicts to maximise the positives. This paper aims, using case studies from Cambodia, to get a deeper understanding of how land acquisition, even if legally recognised, results in conflicts and how the resulting conflict is an opportunity for social transformation. An analytical framework was developed to identify the conflict triggers which can flag the issues that need to be addressed to transform these conflicts. Data was collected through literature review, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and field observation. The results indicate that land acquisitions in Cambodia, particularly through economic land concessions, often results in conflict between local communities and outsiders. Ambiguous property rights, overlapping claims, lack of coordination among government agencies, and lack of consultation and impact assessment were the underlying causes of the conflicts. The study found that mediation has played a crucial role in transforming the conflicts, beyond reducing the conflict intensity, reaching agreement and fostering improved relationships between the conflicting parties. The paper suggests that the large scale land projects in the GMS must address the conflict triggers to minimise conflict, and additionally include appropriate conflict transformation mechanisms, including mediation, as an integral part of their development and management.
Keywords: Cambodia; Conflict transformation; Conflict mediation; Conflict triggers; Economic land concessions; Land acquisitions; Over-lapping user claims

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of Paper: Article

Title: Smallholders, Land Sharing and Small-Scale Commercialization
Author: Pashupati Chaudhary
Affiliation: Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD), P.O. Box 324, Pokhara, Nepal; pchaudhary@libirid.org
Several thousands of smallholders across the world cultivate in the forestlands and its fringes in order to secure their livelihoods. While the majority of them perform subsistent farming, only a few produce a limited amount of surplus food to sell in the local small-scale markets. Due to lack of technologies, poor access of roads and markets, and several sociocultural and demographic (e.g. outmigration of males for job) factors the smallholders are mired in poor production and small-sale commercialization, which is one of bottlenecks for improving food security among them. Over time, the intricacy between smallholders and forest is becoming weaker, with its negative implications for quality of forest ecosystems and wellbeing of people. It is imperative to study such dynamics and suggest enabling policies for the betterment of smallholders. This paper examines on the role land sharing of smallholders with forests plays in food security, how it is changing over time, what are the drivers of such change, what implication such changes have for food security and human wellbeing, and what are the solutions. The case presented here is from the hills of Nepal, which is the epitome of the aforementioned dilemma.
land sharing; small holder agriculture; Nepal; wellbeing

Type of Paper: Article
Wild and Domesticated NTFPs in Support of Rural Livelihoods: A Comparative Review of Drivers and Pressures in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam
Andreas Neef
Chair of Resource Governance and Participatory Development, Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Japan. neef.andreas.4n@kyoto-u.ac.jp
Reliance on non-timber forest products (NTFPs) has been a major feature of many rural communities in Mainland Southeast Asia, particularly among the poorer social groups. This comparative review will look at the various factors that support or constrain the contribution of NTFPs to alleviating rural poverty and building sustainable rural livelihoods. I will first discuss historical and more recent developments in forest policies and land tenure systems in the three countries and how these have promoted or discouraged NTFP collection and domestication. Against the backdrop of accelerating land use change and enhanced market integration, I will then look at how collection/production systems and value chains of wild and domesticated NTFPs have been altered by a variety of drivers and pressures, including the expansion of rubber and other cash crops and its related land tenure dynamics. Drawing on this review of the recent literature, I develop a conceptual framework that identifies the major cause-effect-relationships in contemporary NTFP supply networks. Finally, I provide a critical outlook on the future of NTFP collection/production systems in the three countries.
Key words:
NTFP supply chains, forest conversion, forest policies, land tenure, Southeast Asia

Type of Paper: Article
Impacts of Forests and Agro-Forestry Concessions on Household Resilience in Southern Laos
Aaron J.M. Russell1*, Joost Foppes2, Southone Ketphanh3
1* Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia; a.russell@cgiar.org
Integrated Nature Conservation, Thakhek, Khammouane, Lao PDR; jfoppes@gmail.com
Forestry Research Center, National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Dongdok Campus, Vientiane, Lao PDR; sounthone_k@yahoo.com
Lao PDR’s landscape is being transformed by infrastructural integration with neighboring countries and large-scale development of land resources.  During 2002-2009 the government allocated 13% of Lao’s forest land for foreign/joint investment land concessions, in part on the assumption that these will contribute to national rural development targets.  The slow-growing Dryland Dipterocarp Forests (DDF) of southern Lao provide communities with a range of timber and non-timber forest products for both local consumption and international trade. However they are under-valued by policy makers and there is pressure on government and village authorities to permit conversion of such “low value” forests for export-oriented commercial agricultural or tree cropping plantations.

Our analysis of forest resources use and livelihood vulnerability to shocks in three villages associated with a) natural forests, b) sugarcane concessions and c) eucalyptus concessions in Savannakhet Province challenges these perceptions. Those communities that have lost their forests to concessions have significantly reduced resilience to shocks in comparison with the production forest community.  The provision by forests of fodder for livestock is particularly noteworthy. As presently practiced, the conversion of DDF forests for many concessions should be regarded as a high-risk strategy with the significant potential for “maladaptation” outcomes.
Key words: land concession, NTFP, livelihood resilience, ecosystem services, dry forest, Lao PDR

Last update: 5 August 2014

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