Characterisation and visualisation of telecouplings in Large Scale Land Acquisitions in Southeast Asia

University of Bern (Switzerland)

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, some aspects of interconnectivity of places can already be captured and visualized (e.g. The enormous increase of Large Scale Land Acquisitions (LSLA) in the last decade, mainly targeted at export oriented commodities (e.g. Oil Palm, rubber) lead to large changes in land system especially in the global South. While there is an increasing understanding of local impacts of such LSLA, there is a lack of approaches to capture, characterize and especially visualizing spill-overs and feedbacks with neighbouring or distant places and systems (e.g. land use displacement effects of LSLAs to neighbouring or distant places).

On this backdrop this PhD research aims at developing a system to capture, characterize and visualize feedbacks and spill-overs using LSLA cases in mainland Southeast Asia, likely Myanmar and/or Laos. The research will largely be based on various already available large data sets from different sources, but some fieldwork is envisaged. This research will lead to:

  • Creation of knowledge of spill-overs and feedbacks in large scale land acquisitions (LSLA)
  • Development of a framework and indicator set to capture and characterize spill-over and feedbacks related to LSLAs
  • A (online) tool to visualize the interconnected flows and impacts of local and distant system in relation to LSLA


Gabi Sonderegger
Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern
Mittelstrasse 43, 3012 Bern, Switzerland

“My research aims to contribute to a better understanding of spill-over dynamics of large-scale land acquisitions, as well as to provide insights on how such complex dynamics can be best understood and communicated through (data) visualisation techniques.”

Gabi Sonderegger

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Publications …

Sonderegger, G., C. Oberlack, J.C. Llopis, P.H. Verburg, and A. Heinimann. 2020. Telecoupling visualizations through a network lens: a systematic reviewEcology and Society 25(4):47.


Kolhoff, A. J., H.A.C. Runhaar, T. Gugushvili, G. Sonderegger, B. Van der Leest,  & P.P.J. Driessen. 2016. The influence of actor capacities on EIA system performance in low and middle income countries – Cases from Georgia and Ghana. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 57.