Land Use Transitions: Socio-Ecological Feedback versus Socio-Economic Change

Land Use Transitions: Socio-Ecological Feedback versus Socio-Economic Change


This study seeks to understand the social, environmental, and economic factors that influence land use transition and how those factors influence resulting forest quality. The study looks at both at forest loss and reforestation. The authors use recent changes in forest cover in northern Vietnam as a case study.

Conclusions & Takeaways

The authors recognize several different pathways that lead to reforestation: forest product/service scarcity, government policy, economic development causing abandonment of agricultural lands, globalization (migration, increased tourism, and other combination of factors), expansion of tree-based land-use (orchards, woodlots, agroforestry, etc.). Each of these reforestation pathways vary in quality of the reforestation in ecosystem services and biodiversity benefits. There are two explanatory frameworks for increasing reforestation - a locally-based socio-economic dynamic caused by the severe decline in the goods and services provided by the forest (e.g. flood control) and a more national socio-economic dynamic that is not directly related to forests, but shifts land use expansion to abandonment of lands. In a case study of how these dynamics, the authors examined forest transition patterns. They attribute reforestation patterns to a variety of causes, including national legislation on forest conversion and the recogntion of potential devasting floods (as had been seen in neighboring countries). While policies were developed for regulating ecological services, the reforestation efforts concentrated on fast growing species valued for timber and with low value for water and soil related ecosystem services. Therefore, these policies were more likely seeking to convert "unproductive" uplands to forest lands for economic benefit and government control.




Lambin EF, Meyfroidt P. Land use transitions: Socio-ecological feedback versus socio-economic change. Land Use Policy. 2010;27:108–118. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.09.003.


  • Louvain School of Management Research Institute (ILSM), Universite Catholique de Louvain, Louvain, Belgium