ESR 09:
Characterisation and visualisation of telecouplings in Large Scale Land Acquisitions

Home Institution: University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Principal Supervisor: PD Dr. Andreas Heinimann
Co-Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Peter Verburg
Application date: 16/10/2017-24/11/2017
Starting date: 01/07/2018 or earlier
Duration: 3 years


In a globalized world, flows, feedbacks and spill-overs of material, goods and services, and respective drivers and impacts between local and distant land systems are the norm and not the exception. In some domains, such as trade-flows and supply chains and networks (e.g., some aspects of interconnectivity of places can be captured, characterized and visualized. In important globalized impact on land systems is the enormous increase of Large Scale Land Acquisitions in the last decade, mainly targeted at export oriented commodities. While there is an increasing understanding of local impacts of LSLA, there is a lack of approaches to capture, characterize and especially visualizing spill-overs and feedbacks with neighboring or distant places and systems (e.g. land use displacement effects of LSLAs to neighboring or distant places).

On this backdrop this PhD aims at developing an system to capture, characterize and visualize feedbacks and spill-overs using LSLA cases in Myanmar, Laos and/or Madagascar. This will largely be based on various secondary data sets from different sources, but some fieldwork is envisaged. This research will lead to:

  • Creation of knowledge of spill-overs and feedbacks in LSLAs,
  • Development of a framework and indicator set to capture and characterize spill-over and feedbacks related to LSLAs, and
  • An approach and tool to visualize the interconnected flows and impacts of local and distant system in relation to LSLA.

The PhD will be jointly supervised by Andreas Heinimann (University of Bern, Switzerland) and Peter Verburg (Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands). A secondment is foreseen at the Forest Trust, TFT in Nyon Switzerland.


The University of Bern (UNIBE) is one of the leading universities in Switzerland, with 8 faculties, some 160 institutes and 8 Graduate Schools, almost 17,000 students, and close to 4,000 full time employees. The Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) is an interdisciplinary research centre of the University of Bern affiliated to the Institute of Geography (GIUB) of the UNIBE. Its overarching goal is to produce and share knowledge for sustainable development in collaboration with partners in the global North and South.

We seek

A candidate with MSc in Geography, Sustainability Science, Environmental Science or related disciplines. We expect a strong interest in land use changes, human environment interactions and analysis of large complex data arrays and data visualization. Experiences and interest in data modelling and programming skills are an asset. Excellent written and spoken English skills area prerequisite.


PD Dr. Andreas Heinimann

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