Many forests in tropical regions have been converted to agricultural land. At the same time, forest is re-establishing itself on abandoned agricultural land and grasslands. Both processes give rise to a dynamic landscape of deforestation and reforestation, with conflicting interests of nature conservationists and farmers with respect to biodiversity and food production.
With a view to better understanding these ecological and social dynamics in agro-forest border regions, an interdisciplinary research programme was launched in 2015, FOREFRONT, in which Wageningen University is collaborating intensively with universities in Mexico (ECUSUR, UNAM) and Brazil (UFV). A team of research associates, postdoctoral researchers, PhD candidates and Master's students, ranging from soil specialists to sociologists, has investigated the landscape dynamics. What does this mean for the people living there? How can they influence these dynamics?
International and interdisciplinary cooperation is a productive and instructive experience, in the view of WUR project managers Frans Bongers and Thom Kuyper in this video which was filmed on location in Brazil:
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Bongers: “Our research in three different agro-forest border regions yielded factual information on the regions along with an exchange of knowledge with and between NGOs, farmer organisations and among the researchers. The lenses through which people look when they examine situations determine to a large extent how they think about them. Trying on different glasses now and then is already taking a big step forwards.”