Open data reveals extent of land grabbing

Land grabs are often not conducted openly, which has made them difficult to monitor. However, the revamped online tool, revealed this month (10 June), allows for the crowdsourcing and visualisation of data as well as the verification of sources of such data, to promote transparency and accountability in land and investment decisions.

Thomson Reuters reports on the findings of publicly available online database, called the Global Observatory, that reveals foreign investors have acquired 32.8 million hectares of land in largely poor and middle-income countries since 2000 — up from its 2012 estimates of 26.2 million hectares.

The total area of land controlled by foreign investors globally is similar to the size of Poland, according to the most up to date estimates contained in an online database that aims to document large-scale land acquisitions or ‘land grabs’.

Land Matrix

Land grabs are often not conducted openly, which has made them difficult to monitor. However, the revamped online tool, revealed this month (10 June), allows for the crowdsourcing and visualisation of data as well as the verification of sources of such data, to promote transparency and accountability in land and investment decisions.

Most of that land has been acquired in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the top three investor countries being the United States, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.