FOREFRONT projects Ecosystem services provided by soils in a Mexican agro-forest landscape Tropical agro-forest landscapes are dynamic mosaics of natural vegetation, semi-natural habitats, and farming systems, that provide essential ecosystem services (ES), benefits that people obtain from ecosystems. ES are co-produced in social-ecological systems, which imply the active role and influence of management decisions and practices on ecosystem processes. Emancipation of young agroecological peasants in Zona da Mata, Minas Gerais, Brazil: an identity in-the-making Intergovernmental organisations and researchers point to agroecology as a pathway to preserve biodiversity, address climate change and achieve the sustainable development goals. Little is known about how young people become engaged in peasant agroecology. Literature shows that autonomy is decisive for young people to start farming. The thesis draws on Feminist and peasant studies literature, as well as discourse theory and the concept of affect to analyse and understand the relevance of relationality and resignification in young people’s engagement in peasant agroecology. Social construction of the forest landscape of La Sepultura, Chiapas: the agency role of local actors from an interface perspective I analysed the effect that the socio-environmental regime (SER), predominant in a natural protected area (NPA), has had on the configuration of livelihoods of domestic rural groups (DRG) and on the construction of forest landscapes of two ejidos in the Upper Tablón River Basin (UTRB), located in the biosphere reserve La Sepultura, Chiapas, Mexico. Linking biodiversity, ecosystem services and social actors to promote agroecological transitions The landscape in Zona da Mata region (Atlantic forest biome; Brazil) can be understood as a dynamic mosaic of land uses, including secondary forest, pastures and coffee fields. Spatial patterns of such mosaics are determined by heterogeneous physical landscape features and shaped by the diversity in management practices and decisions made by individual farmers. Balances between forest conservation and agricultural production in human-modified tropical landscapes Human-modified landscapes (HML) emerge as potential areas to conserve biodiversity and maintain ecosystem functions and services. Simultaneously, these sites develop agricultural activities that currently experience a homogenization of crops with high use of inputs (e.g. agrochemicals). The need to conserve in the HML runs counter to the complex reality that exists in these areas, which, at the moment, demands more land for agricultural production. Realising the benefits of nature This thesis presents a place-based social–ecological study of ecosystem services (ES), situated in a mountain landscape and small rural community within a biosphere reserve in Chiapas, south-eastern Mexico. I aimed to reveal important interactions between ecosystems, ES, and people, and address the main sustainability challenge of reconciling local livelihoods and nature conservation. Co-construction of tropical agricultural frontiers: opportunities for minimizing trade-offs between supply and demand of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. My doctoral research explores the fundamental dilemma of the planet's humid tropical ecosystems on how to reconcile agricultural production, biodiversity conservation, and human well-being. Tropical agricultural frontiers are changing rapidly and present unique opportunities to reconcile the provision of ecosystem services, the conservation of biological diversity, and the maintenance of the livelihoods of rural communities. “I came here for the land to sustain me”: Land-use change and smallholder decisions in a tropical agro-forest frontier In the last six decades land-use and land-cover changes have affected around a third of the world’s surface. An increasing world demand for agricultural products has promoted the conversion of tropical forested landscapes into landscape mosaics dominated by agriculture and other land-uses. Building movements for transformation: defending and advancing agroecology in Brazil For several decades, wider societal transformation has been sought by new social movements. These movements, which include buen vivir, rights to nature, and agroecology, are challenging neo-liberalism and advancing alternatives that reconnect society to nature and local communities. The agroecology movement in Brazil has supported the development of more inclusive practices, has formed alliances to support territories and has organised itself in state and national level networks to advocate support for certain policies, and to systemically challenge agri-business, control over land, markets and policy resources. Land-use management and recovery of ecosystem services in a tropical agroforest landscape Tropical agro-forest frontier areas are highly dynamic landscapes that consist of mosaics of different land-uses, mainly forest remnants, grazing lands, agricultural lands and secondary forest. These landscapes provide essential benefits for local human populations, while at the same time representing important challenges for sustainability and biodiversity conservation. Land use change and ecosystem services: linking social and ecological systems across time There is an urgent need for multifunctional landscapes to provide a diversity of ecosystem services (ES) due to projected climate change. This requires a better understanding of social and ecological factors that influence how these landscapes are managed and how this influences the provision of ES. Identification of the main socioeconomic drivers of Land Use Land Cover (LULC) can give important insights about the drivers of ES. Brazil has witnessed intense changes in LULC, which may have influenced the provision of ES at different scales.