GLOLAND (Integrating human agency in global land change models)

Time span of the project    2012-2018
Contact person
Prof Dr Ir Peter Verburg
Project partners
International consortium
Project sponsorEuropean Research Council

Current global-scale research on environmental change and assessments of food production have a strong focus on the physical processes that underlie changes in the earth system and crop growth.

Although global environmental change is driven by individual and collective human decisions, most earth system and integrated assessment models lack a proper representation of human decision making and the barriers to adopting more adapted land use systems. The importance of variation in local context has caused much social-science research on the underlying driving factors and decision making structures to focus on local case studies. Consequently, important insights from social-science have been ignored in global-scale assessment models.

The GLOLAND project, which focuses on land system change, contributes to a new generation of integrated global assessment models. These models will explicitly account for the (spatial) variation in decision making to support the design of earth system governance.
An improved understanding of the factors that drive decision making will be obtained through a novel meta-analysis of existing case studies of land change worldwide. Supplementary empirical evidence will be collected by analysing a number of transects and disentangling the global and local factors that influence land change decisions. 

Generalized, global-scale multi-agent modelling systems that represent variation in decision making will be developed. While current global land models are driven mainly by changes in consumption patterns and demography, we propose an alternative approach that accounts for the full range of ecosystem service demands and explicitly addresses the spatial relationship between demand and supply of those services that influence decision making.