The impacts of warfare and armed conflict on land systems


Land-use decisions can change abruptly in response to shocks, and warfare and armed conflicts are among the most drastic and globally frequent shocks. Yet, our understanding of where armed conflict affects land systems, how land-use patterns are impacted, and how far-reaching and persistent these changes are, is partial. We used a spatially detailed dataset on armed conflict and a literature review to explore these questions. A number of key insights emerged from our study: (1) warfare and armed conflict affect land systems mainly in more densely populated areas, regardless of the dominating land use; (2) warfare and armed conflict can impact land systems in major ways, but these effects are diverse and not unidirectional; (3) warfare and armed conflict primarily affects land systems locally, but can forge telecouplings; and (4) although the impact of warfare and armed conflict is often immediate, it can instigate long-lasting land-use legacies.

Journal of Land Use Science, 11(6) 672-688
Tobias Kuemmerle
Tobias Kuemmerle
Professor & Head of the Conservation Biogeography Lab