What is it about?

Finding entry points where policy has strong leverage to transform land systems for people and nature is pivotal. We develop an innovative framework to identify and evaluate such leverage points along land-use trajectories that account for path dependency. Applied to the biodiversity hotspot Madagascar, the framework reveals three leverage points: Two leverage points are associated with trade-offs between biodiversity, ecosystem services, and agricultural productivity, while the third entails cobenefits. Swift policy action is required, as path dependency caused by forest loss may soon put two leverage points out of reach. We argue that such closing windows of opportunity may be common, but often overlooked, calling for a wider consideration of path dependency in land-system science.

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Why is it important?

North-eastern Madagascar is a key biodiversity hotspot, hosting many endemic species threatened by land-use change. At the same time, many people in the region reliant on land struggle to meet basic needs, highlighting the need for a sustainable land system transformation. Here, we provide a conceptual framework and important data on the consequences of prevalent land-use changes in the region. This shows that vanilla agroforestry - if established at the right place - may deliver for people and nature.


This work brings together more than five years of research by an interdisciplinary research team based in Germany and Madagascar. Seeing the hard work by more than twenty Professors, PostDocs, PhD students, and MSc Students come together in a single paper has been highly rewarding, really showcasing the potential of large collaborative research projects. Without this collaboration, offering such a comprehensive view on the drivers and consequences of land-use change - and leverage points to address the change - would have been impossible.

Dr. Dominic Andreas Martin
University of Zurich

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Land-use trajectories for sustainable land system transformations: Identifying leverage points in a global biodiversity hotspot, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2107747119.
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