Production of agricultural commodities to meet international demand for food, fibre and energy is the most important driver of land-use change globally.
This chapter examines the causes and effects of trade and land-use telecouplings (i.e. spatially distant interactions between socioeconomic and environmental systems), identifying some of the emerging characteristics of global trade – such as the increasing trade volume and market integration – as well as specific economic, regulatory, investment, consumer preference, demographic and biophysical factors that together shape land-use and trade telecouplings.
It also identifies some of the methodological challenges that have hampered attempts to date to understand trade and land-use telecouplings. In particular, it argues that a move towards more spatially explicit and actor-specific data – away from a dependence on national-level information and on anonymized ownership of trade flows – can greatly improve understanding, help provide more actionable information for decision makers and operationalize the telecoupling framework.