The issue “Focus on Leakage: Informing Land-Use Governance in a Tele-coupled World” explores new ways to put tools and data to work towards improving our understanding of direct and indirect land-use change caused by governance interventions.
Governing land use to achieve sustainable outcomes is challenging, because land systems manifest complex land use spillovers – i.e. processes by which land use changes or direct interventions in land use (e.g., policy, program, new technologies) in one place have impacts on land use in another place. The ERL issue “Focus on Leakage: Informing Land-Use Governance in a Tele-coupled World” builds on discussions in an international expert workshop conducted in Berlin in November 2017 to explore innovative ways to improve our understanding of how governance interventions, new technologies and other factors can affect land-use change both directly and indirectly through spillovers. This editorial starts by clarifying the definitions and relationships between land-use spillover, indirect land use change (iLUC) – a form of spillover where land use change in one place is caused by land use change in another place – leakage – a form of land use spillover, which is caused by an environmental policy (e.g., a conservation or restoration intervention), and the spillover reduces the overall benefits and effectiveness of this intervention -, and displacement processes. We then use this terminology to summarize the individual contributions of this special issue and conclude with lessons learned as well as directions for future research.