Thilde Bech Bruun

Thilde Bech Bruun

Associate Professor

Primary fields of research

  • Carbon and nutrient dynamics in tropical agro-ecosystems
  • Effects of land use changes on carbon storage in soil and vegetation
  • Climate change mitigation in the land use sector
  • Adaptation to climate change in the land use sector
  • Agro-Ecological intensification of small-scale tropical farming systems
  • Shifting cultivation
  • Soil quality indicators


I am currently involved in a study that is focusing on the sustainability of the maize feed value chain in Thailand and neighboring countries that are currently experiencing a boom in maize production due to increased demand from a growing livestock industry. The maize boom has resulted in  conversion of large areas from traditional extensive shifting cultivation and forests to intensive, annual monocropping of maize. We are investigating the environmental and socio-economic impacts and possible feedback effects of the expansion of maize production, and trying to understand the complex cross-border connections between land use systems in Thailand and its neighbors.

I am also working on a research project that is examining agricultural transformation processes in Thailand through a comparative analysis of the traditional and modern food value chains and the implications for livelihoods and the environment. The research project seeks to develop a framework for studying these food value chains simultaneously and in relation to each other. By conceiving food value chains as systems of resource flows, our analytical framework provides an integration of value chain analysis with environmental interactions that occur at every node in the chains.

Finally, I am engaged in a study of the impacts of land use on soil quality, biodiversity and carbon storage in soil and vegetation in the Peruvian Amazon. We are assessing the carbon stocks of various land use systems by direct measurements and using destructive sampling (including excavation) to develop new allometric equations to accurately estimate biomass of trees in secondary forests.

My recent research has focused on the environmental effects of some of the dominant land use changes that are currently taking place in South East Asia - for example the transitions from traditional land use systems to systems that are dominated by oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia or the change from shifting cultivation to intensive cultivation of maize in Thailand. I have also been involved in a study comparing carbon storage in rubber plantations and in shifting cultivation systems under various levels of intensification in northern Laos. I have participated in several interdisciplinary research projects investigating drivers and consequences of land use change in South East Asia, in projects investigating adaptation to climate change in the Solomon Islands and in studies of the sustainability of agricultural production in small scale farming systems of Vietnam.

The regional focus of my research is Northern Laos, Northern Thailand, Malaysian Borneo, Indonesia, Northern Vietnam, Ghana, Southern Mali and Solomon Islands.


I am a part of a European research and training network called 'Operationalising Telecoupling for Solving Sustainability Challenges for Land Use' (Coupled), that involves 8 European Universities and 15 doctoral students who are doing research on sustainable land use through the concept of telecoupling. Read more about this project here.

I am leading a Global Land Project (GLP) working group on shifting cultivation in transition. Read about this initiative here.

I am also participating in the ‘Participatory and Integrative Support for Agricultural Initiative’ (PISAI) - an Erasmus+ program aiming to develop a double Master’s degree program in agriculture for leading Thai Universities in cooperation with European institutions. Read more about PISAI here.

I am responsible for the MSc course 'Climate Change - an Interdisciplinary Challenge' that is one of the mandatory courses at the MSc in Climate Change – a 2 year interdisciplinary MSc program combining natural and social science approaches to studying climate change - offered at University of Copenhagen.


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