Phase I Final Newsletter
View this email in your browser
This newsletter and the previous ones are available here

Focal Point

España 1587, 4400 Salta, Argentina


This newsletter summarizes the work done by the Land Matrix Latin America Focal Point (LM - LAFP) during Phase I of this project, which started in August, 2014 and ends on July 31, 2015. This newsletter complements the information contained in previous newsletters.
The Land Matrix is a global and independent land monitoring initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in decisions over land and investment. Land deals can be outright purchases, leases, or other land use contracts and agreements. They must be made after the year 2000, cover more than 200 hectares, and involve some sort of land use change.
FUNDAPAZ (Fundación para el Desarrollo en Justicia y Paz), member of the International Land Coalition (ILC) and the Latin American Network of Land Observatories (Red Territorios Visibles) is currently in charge of the LM-LAFP. The technical team responsible for uploading and analyzing data on large land acquisitions is coordinated by the Research Institute on Renewable Energy (INENCO), a research center belonging to the Argentinian system of science and technology. The Red Territorios Visibles is coordinated by CEPES (Peruvian Center of Social Studies). The Research and Development Institute NITLAPAN of the Nicaraguan Central American University (UCA) is also part of the LM-LAFP consortium.



Scientific seminars

On April 22, 2015, Lucas Seghezzo and Cristian Venencia (both from INENCO) gave a conference entitled “The Land Matrix Project for Latin America” in the framework of INENCO’s scientific seminars (Figure 1). The attendance consisted mainly of university students and staff. The presentation included a description of the activities undertaken during Phase I of the project and a lively debate on the future challenges of this initiative in the region.
Figure 1. Presentation of the results of Phase I of the Land Matrix initiative in Latin America during a scientific seminar organized by INENCO.

Regional networks and internet

The activities of the LM-LAFP, including all monthly newsletters, were constantly distributed via the websites of ILC LAC members and through our own regional networks. Newsletters were also sent to all members and contacts within the Latin American Semi-Arid Platform, which includes 14 organizations, 6 from Brazil and Paraguay, two countries where ILC has no active members yet.
During Phase I we have also established contacts with additional organizations in Paraguay and Colombia in order to optimize data gathering on large land acquisitions and exchange specific information on this topic. For further information, see the Red Territorios Visibles website:


On May 5 and 6, 2015, an International Workshop on Community Mapping for Land Management, including representatives from Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina, was held in the city of San Ramón de la Nueva Orán (Salta, Argentina). Participants included regional organizations such as FUNDAPAZ, Junta Unida de Misiones (JUM) (Misiones, Argentina), the Center of Regional Studies for Development (CERDET) (Tarija, Bolivia), and the Church Committee for Emergency Relief (CIPAE) (Paraguay).These organizations are all members of the Integrated Program for the Support of Indigenous Communities in the Chaco supported by the Church World Service (CWS). Indigenous mappers from the three countries exchanged information and experiences with experts in Geographic Information System (GIS) from FUNDAPAZ and representatives of the technical team of th LM-LAFP (Figure 2).

Figure 2. International Workshop on Community Mapping for Land Management held in Orán.
The workshop highlighted the importance of this methodology for local communities, since it could increase their political power, help solve land conflicts, and facilitate environmental monitoring. Different methodologies for data collection were described, emphasizing the critical importance of accurate and updated databases and maps. Maps previously developed by local organizations and communities were presented during the workshop (Figure 3). Members of the LM-LAFP introduced the existing database on large land acquisitions in the region, described how to upload new deals from crowdsourcing, and presented the work of the focal point.
Figura 3. Participatory maps made with input from local communities.


Gabriel Seghezzo and Martín Simón (both from FUNDAPAZ) attended the Global Earth Forum organized by ILC that took place in Dakar, Senegal, May 12 through 16, 2015 (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Global Earth Forum held in Dakar, Senegal.
Progress made by the LM-LAFP and other regional focal points were presented during a breakout session. The forum allowed a number of meetings with members of GIGA (Germany), CIRAD (France), ILC, AFA (Asia), and Jasil (Asia). Progress made on the decentralization of the Land Matrix was intensely debated during these meetings. Technical details on the uploading of new deals were also analyzed and future projections of the Land Matrix initiative were discussed. An internal meeting of Latin American members of the Land Matrix was also held during this forum (Figure 5). Meetings were useful to set new goals, agree on technical details, and discuss the characteristics of Phase II of the Land Matrix. This event was a good opportunity to meet Saliou Niasse, next global coordinator of the LM initiative based in Pretoria (South Africa). Copies of the newsletters produced by the LM-LAFP were presented and distributed during the poster session of the forum (Figure 6).
Figure 5. Breakout sessions and discussion between regional members.
Figure 6. Newsletters and brochures in display during the Global Earth Forum.


In previous newsletters we provided a preliminary analysis of the information contained in the Land Matrix for Latin America. The number of transactions and the surface involved was reported for several countries. Main investors in the region were highlighted taking as a reference Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Uruguay. By the time we were closing this final newsleeter, the LM-LAFP had uploaded 20 new land deals and updated 35 pre-existing deals (details in the Table). Figure 7 shows the number of new and updated deals related to the total number of deals in the region. This figure also shows details per country. In a future Phase, we plan to cover the entire continent by searching for cases in countries which are currently not represented.
Table 1. Land deals uploaded and updated by the LM-LAFP since August 2014.
Figure 7. Number of new, updated and pre-existing deals.
Latin America shows a clear predominance of foreign investors. However, national investors are almost 30% of the total number of investors, as shown in Figure 10. This fact highlights the importance of paying attention to national investors in order to fully understand the dynamics of large land acquisitions at national and local level.
Figure 8. Types of investors involved in large land acquisitions in Latin America.


Information on large land acquisitions in Nicaragua clearly shows that land deals almost always induce land use changes. Cases uploaded onto the Land Matrix also reveal a process of gradual concentration of land in fewer owners and the widespread expansion of monocultures (palm, timber) and energy projects. Land deals reduce the area used for family farms, alters the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, and promotes migration to urban centers. Information retrieval in Central America is difficult and it is highly influenced by local settings. The political crisis in Guatemala, for instance, leading to retaliation against local leaders who claim land rights, or insecurity and violence in Honduras, are currently preventing some organizations from joining the search for more accurate and comprehensive land-related information.


Phase I of the LM-LAFP was highly positive for the organizations involved and can be helpful for future policy actions aiming to protecting the land rights of indigenous and peasant communities in the region. Local members are now well trained for detecting, loading, and analyzing large land acquisitions. This will greatly facilitate the expansion of this initiative in the future.
If Phase II is approved, the LM-LAFP will focus its activities on updating each and every one of the cases loaded for Latin America since the creation of the Land Matrix. New deals will also be loaded regularly, since the land market in this region is very dynamic. We will also continue with the research activities initiated during Phase I on processes of land governance and the assessment of the water footprint and the virtual water associated with large land acquisitions.
We will deepen our institutional bonds with regional land observatories and ILC LAC members. We will also establish new links with other non-members to create an active data-gathering network. It will be important to contact public organisms in some countries in order to undertake a more systematic search for large land acquisitions and strengthen the entire regional database. It will also be important to be ready to generate specific reports on demand that could support or enhance advocacy and research activities performed by ILC LAC members and other organizations.
If you are in the region and want to contribute with this initiative, you can file a report on a specific land deal by clicking here.
These newsletter and the previous versions are available here
© 2015 Landmatrix-LAFP

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences