Understanding the role of regional actors in driving land transformations in South-East Asia: Vietnamese large-scale investments in Cambodian tree plantations, 2000-2016

Authors: Kirk Saylor*, University of Maryland - Baltimore County, Ariane de Bremond, University of Maryland College Park, Nicholas Magliocca, University of Alabama / co-presenting author, Evan Ellicott, University of Maryland College Park
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: economic land concessions, matching analysis, telecoupling, Cambodia, Vietnam
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Gold, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Majestic Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper employs a telecoupling framing to look at a specific investment relationship with spatially explicit quantitative data to understand social and environmental impacts and displacement. Telecoupled land-use processes are typically investigated at aggregate spatial scales (e.g., national) consistent with agricultural commodity trade data between trading partners. Spatially-explicit data of economic land concession (ELC) boundaries in Cambodia, however, provide an opportunity to investigate local-scale realized and avoided land-use changes and social impacts of commodity agriculture and foreign investment. Specifically, we investigate the sub-set of ELCs associated with Vietnam investments in Cambodia for rubber production, larger than 200 hectares, and occurring between the period 2000-2016. Using matching analysis, we identify locations within Vietnam comparable to those within the boundaries of Vietnamese-owned ELCs in Cambodia on the basis of biophyscial suitability for rubber production and market access. We then compare the observed forest loss, population displacement, and loss of land for subsistence cultivation in between paired locations in Cambodia and Vietnam. This analysis will provide a nuanced and grounded examination of the factors influencing the location of Vietnamese ELCs in Cambodia, and the realized and avoided impacts of telecoupled land-use relationships between the two countries.

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