Land Theft as Rural Eco-Crime

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Land grabbing in various forms is happening in many different parts of this globe. This involves ‘outsiders’ - nation-states as well as corporations - colluding with local domestic elites to radically alter existing land ownership and land uses. Contemporary forms of land theft take place under the guise of acquiring land for food and biofuels, and through imposition of resource extraction activities such as logging and mining. They also occur when land is sealed up for the purposes of carbon sequestration and for conservation. From the point of view of environmental justice, such land reconfigurations represent ‘theft’ insofar as they challenge the basic ways of life and subsistence abilities of traditional land owners. These stakeholders are generally vulnerable to land grabs by powerful interests, leading to immediate and longer term hardship. For green criminology, activity which diminishes social equity in the provision of healthy sustainable environments can be considered a type of eco-crime.



land theft, land grabbing, environmental justice, green criminology, eco-crime, conservation


International Journal of Rural Criminology, v1, n2 (November, 2012), p. 203-217