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LANDac | New publications MDPI Land

In collaboration with the MDPI Open Access journal Land, LANDac has published three open access papers on ‘Land Governance in Transition: How to support transformations that work for people and nature?’.

  • Domínguez, L., & Luoma, C. (2020). Decolonising Conservation Policy: How Colonial Land and Conservation Ideologies Persist and Perpetuate Indigenous Injustices at the Expense of the Environment. Land, 9(3), 65. MDPI AG. Retrieved from

The livelihoods of indigenous peoples, custodians of the world’s forests since time immemorial, were eroded as colonial powers claimed de jure control over their ancestral lands. The continuation of European land regimes in Africa and Asia meant that the withdrawal of colonial powers did not bring about a return to customary land tenure. Further, the growth in environmentalism has been interpreted by some as entailing conservation ahead of people. While this may be justifiable in view of devastating anthropocentric breaching of planetary boundaries, continued support for “fortress” style conservation inflicts real harm on indigenous communities and overlooks sustainable solutions to deepening climate crises. In reflecting on this issue from the perspective of colonial land tenure systems, this article highlights how ideas—the importance of individualised land ownership, cultivation, and fortress conservation—are intellectually flawed. Prevailing conservation policies, made possible by global non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and statutory donors, continue to harm indigenous peoples and their traditional territories. Drawing from the authors’ experience representing the Batwa (DRC), the Ogiek and Endorois (Kenya) and Adivasis (India) in international litigation, this paper examines the human and environmental costs associated with modern conservation approaches through this colonial lens. This article concludes by reflecting on approaches that respect environmental and human rights.

Keywords: fortress conservation; indigenous peoples; decolonisation; customary land tenure; forest governance; Democratic Republic of Congo; Kenya; India

  • Panez, A., Roose, I., & Faúndez, R. (2020). Agribusiness Facing Its Limits: The Re-Design of Neoliberalization Strategies in the Exporting Agriculture Sector in Chile. Land, 9(3), 66. MDPI AG. Retrieved from

The core neoliberal strategy of Chilean agrarian politics has lasted now for more than 30 years. Despite minor reforms, its fundamental pillars remain in place. While members of the agribusiness sector consider this strategy to be a role-model for food production leading to explosive economic growth, the last decade exposed its socio-ecological limits, such as declining water availability and increased conflicts over land. Taking critical literature on neoliberalization as a theoretical approach, we used law and literature reviews as well as qualitative interviews with actors from the public and private sectors to reveal the details of the strategies in the exporting agriculture sector in Chile. From the understanding of neoliberalization as a multi-layered process, we analyzed the data, focusing on three dimensions of agribusiness in Chile: (a) regulation, (b) spatial fix, and (c) ideological paradigms. In doing so, we uncovered how far the coping strategies chosen by the state and private sector have re-designed and strengthened the process of agriculture neoliberalization in order to push its own socio-ecological limits.

Keywords: agribusiness; Chile; neoliberalization; access to land and territory

  • Santpoort, R. (2020). The Drivers of Maize Area Expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa. How Policies to Boost Maize Production Overlook the Interests of Smallholder Farmers. Land, 9(3), 68. MDPI AG. Retrieved from

Maize has become the second most produced crop in the world. Specifically, in sub-Saharan Africa, global statistics show that more and more land is being used for (small-scale) maize production to meet future food demands. From 2007 to 2017, the area on which maize is grown in sub-Saharan Africa has increased by almost 60%. This rate of expansion is considered unsustainable and is expected to come at the expense of crop diversity and the environment. Based on available literature, this paper explores the political and economic processes that contributed to the increased use of land for maize production in sub-Saharan Africa. It discusses population growth as an important driver. Moreover, it unravels some of the politics and narratives triggered by climate change that have paved the way for policy measures that aimed to boost maize production in the region. These measures, which often emphasize the need for increased production, the need for new technologies and resource scarcity, overlook the largest group of maize producers that are least powerful, but most crucial for food security in sub-Saharan Africa: smallholder farmers.

Keywords: land use change; maize; political economy; food security

These papers are part of the LANDac Annual International Conference 2019 – Land Governance in Transition: How to support transformations that work for people and nature? More information on the 2019 conference and other outputs can be found here.