Forest frontiers are changing rapidly across the tropics in the Global South mainly due to expansion of commodity and monocrop agriculture, resource extractions and development, and efforts to conserve the last remaining forest frontiers (Kelly & Peluso 2015). Such transformations are often imposed on landscapes that are traditionally managed by vulnerable smallholders and indigenous groups, significantly affecting their access to both material and non-material benefits of nature (also known as ecosystem services) that are essential for their livelihoods, resilience and overall well-being. Moreover, these forest-agriculture transformations are often happening without villagers having full grasp of potential implications on the cost and benefits of changing institutions and commodities, creating new vulnerabilities and precarity for those that lose access to land or are ‘unsuccessful’ during land-use transformations. 

The premise of this call is that current models of development in frontiers is largely inequitable. This model is often based on the narrow (economic) development narratives and political discourses that push certain forms of commodity agriculture in forest frontiers, which are often also used as instruments of power that may empower some, but also deepen and reinforce existing inequities (Wong et al. 2022). Even when mechanisms of benefit sharing are in place, institutional factors and underlying power relations often constrain their fair share of benefits.

In this special section, we put equity and justice at the center of analysis and discussion of forest-agriculture frontier change in the Global South.  We encourage authors to engage – fully or partially – with multidimensional equity/environmental justice framework (Schlosberg 2007; McDermott et al. 2013; Sikor, 2013; Pascual et al. 2014) to provide a rich and in-depth examination of who benefits and who bears the burdens of these transformations. The framework put attention to four key dimensions: (1) Procedural justice: degree of involvement and inclusiveness in rulemaking and decisions around land, development and conservation programs. (2) Distributional justice: distribution of costs, benefits, burdens, risks, access and rights derived from changed land and forest governance. (3) Recognition justice: respect for knowledge systems, values, social norms, and the rights of stakeholders in design and implementation of development and conservation programs. (4) Contextual justice: the surrounding social conditions (e.g., power dynamics, gender relations, education) that influence actors’ abilities to gain recognition, participate in decision making, and lobby for fair distribution.



The aim of this special section is to highlight existing research and practices that can contribute to advance our understanding of equity and justice during the processes of land-use change in the Global South. This can be in the form of original research articles, methodological engagement, notes from the field, and policy forum [see types of papers here].


Primary Topics

We are particularly interested in the work that address the following topics/questions and beyond:

  • Equity/justice implications of forest-agriculture transformation 
  • Changed access to ecosystem services and human well-being bundles in the frontiers
  • Loss (or gain) of traditional rights/commons during forest-agriculture transformation
  • The discursive and political narratives around forest-agriculture transformation
  • Initiatives that address inequality/injustice in the frontiers
  • Political reactions ‘from below’ during forest-agriculture transformations
  • Mobility and migration dynamics
  • Increased (or reduced) vulnerability and precarity
  • Changed gender and power relations during forest-agriculture transformations


Your Expression
Expression of interest can be sent to Forest and Society journal via ( by providing 250-300 words of abstract and a short explanation of why it is relevant for the special section. For further information, read the full instruction for authors here


Tentative Publication Schedule

Submission     : May 2023 – August 2024

Peer Review   : From submission until October 2024

Publication     : November 2024



Please contact us for any queries at:


McDermott, M., Mahanty, S., & Schreckenberg, K. (2013). Examining equity: a multidimensional framework for assessing equity in payments for ecosystem services. Environmental science & policy, 33, 416-427.

Pascual, U., Phelps, J., Garmendia, E., Brown, K., Corbera, E., Martin, A., ... & Muradian, R. (2014). Social equity matters in payments for ecosystem services. Bioscience, 64(11), 1027-1036.

Schlosberg, D. (2007). Defining environmental justice: Theories, movements, and nature. Oxford University Press.

Sikor, T. (ed.). (2013). The Justices and Injustices of Ecosystem Services. Routledge. 

Wong, G. Y., Holm, M., Pietarinen, N., Ville, A., & Brockhaus, M. (2022). The making of resource frontier spaces in the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia: a critical analysis of narratives, actors and drivers in the scientific literature. World Development Perspectives, 27, 100451.