Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

The Political Ecology of Land Degradation

  • Elina Andersson
  • Sara Brogaard
  • Lennart Olsson
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 295-319
Publication/Series: Annual Review Environment and Resources
Volume: 36
Document type: Journal article review
Publisher: Annual Reviews

Abstract english

Land degradation, as a threat to smallholders in the tropics, attracts less attention than other global challenges. In addition, gaps between scientific understandings of land degradation and international policy regimes are problematic. We identify the three most significant debates including their different policy implications: desertification in the Sahel, nutrient depletion in Africa, and rural reforms in China. Using a political ecology frame across disciplines, scales of inquiry, and regional experiences, we nuance the often polarized scientific debate while seeking to bridge the gap between science and policy. Three main findings emerge: State-led rural reforms in China represent an important approach to land degradation; a renewed focus on agriculture and sustainability in development discourses opens new ways for tackling nutrient depletion with combined sociotechnological reforms; and a policy void in Africa paves the way for market mechanisms, such as payment for environmental services, that are insufficiently understood and put fairness at risk.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • China
  • Africa
  • desertification
  • nutrient depletion
  • policy


  • ISSN: 1545-2050
Sara Brogaard
E-mail: sara [dot] brogaard [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

+46 46 222 05 13

Josephson, 218

Josephson, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund


P.O. Box 170, SE-222 70 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)46- 222 80 81
info [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se